In an international volunteer service, young people (aged 18-28) spend one year volunteering in a foreign country. In the South North program, this country is Germany. The term starts in the beginning of April and ends in the end of March. Applicants should be available from January to prepare for their service and attend a German language course if necessary.
As a volunteer, you will have the chance to grow personally in an informal learning process during your one-year voluntary service. You will establish cross-cultural competence and intercultural leadership skills by working alongside those with a different background and viewpoints.
Therefore, you will develop within the year. By sharing insights and experiences, you also develop your surrounding societies both in Germany and in your home country.
UEM’s volunteer service is part of the weltwärts program, which is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Weltwärts volunteer programs are known for their high standard and quality.
If you are between 18 and 28 years old, you are invited to apply. It is important that you are not older than 28 years at the point of arrival.
A pre-selection will be done by our member churches. This means that you must not apply directly at UEM but via your respective churches’ head office.
We are looking for motivated, interested and socially or politically involved young adults.
The deadline for application is in mid-September. Before that, you must have applied in your respective member church. It will pre-select two-three candidates and forward them to us. The final decision about volunteer scholarships granted is made in Wuppertal. You will receive the answer by the end of October.
Applicants must hand in:
- Copy of the data sheet of your passport
- Completed application form
- Curriculum Vitae
- Letter of motivation
- Church endorsement
- Letter of recommendation
All application documents can be downloaded from the column on the right side.
For volunteers, there is no cost involved.
Preparatory language course, flight, insurances, food, accommodation and a small pocket money (150€) are covered. Note, that 150€ really is very little money in Germany.
It differs from project to project where volunteers live. Some volunteers live in one or several host families, others in shared flats or by themselves.
The volunteer service is no mission program! As weltwärts is a secular program, the work is orientated towards social work. However, many volunteers are placed in a church-related work field. But, they won’t preach, but are involved in social tasks.
All placements are located within our German member churches in Western Germany, within North Rhine Westphalia, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Lower Saxony.
In the following, some information on different areas of volunteer work can be found. You should know, that many of our placements vary from year to year. Every placement has its own focus and structure. But this overview can give an idea of what awaits you in Germany:
Youth centers offer various programs for the youth. This may be all kinds of activities: homework help, playing with children, all kinds of groups and meetings, summer camps, music, sports…
It very much depends on the youth center what a volunteer may do. One example of such a placement is Weigle Haus in Essen.
Dani S. is a former volunteer who served in Weigle Haus, a youth center in Essen. In his report, he wrote:
“Every Monday and Wednesday I work in „Kapito” in Weigle Haus. I meet children aged 6-12 there. Sometimes, I pick the children up from school, have lunch with them and the staff. Sometimes, I help them with their homework like Mathematics or German (sometimes difficult). Then we accompany the kids to read books, play kicker, play cards, play with a ball etc. I love Kapito, because I can work with children. First, I thought children coming to Kapito are from harmonic families, but they do not. Some of them come from very difficult circumstances.
I also work in Haus Zwingli, a house for the youth ages 12 – 16; every Tuesday and Wednesday. This is where I meet 5-12 teenagers. They normally eat together, play kicker, Play Station, Billiard and other. Zwingli Haus teenagers are a bit difficult, I think. Often Andy and Tilli (the responsibles in Zwingli Haus) remind them of their bad habits.
Every Tuesday, I also meet the other co-workers from Weigle Haus. We have breakfast together and speak about the coming week and the work. Afterwards we discuss with the other volunteers (Jahresteam) the activities which have to be done. Jahresteam is an anual team coming from different areas. They work with children and youth in Weigle Haus, Zwingli Haus, Paulus Haus, Taste of Heaven etc.
Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I work in Paulus Haus. I play soccer, table tennis, Billiard, Play Station, Kicker, listen to music and we have different activities. I love Paulus Haus, because the boys are friendly and the like sports. I like playing soccer and table tennis. This is where everyone can be free and follow his hobby.
Every Sunday Evening, I work as youth service in the Weigle Haus Café. In my free time, I go to Taste of Heaven. Every week, I can meet different young people. Playing games together, eating together, singing.”
Volunteering in a school means that the volunteer assists teachers and staff in their different tasks.
For example, this could be helping students with their homework or being in the classes during lessons to assist if questions arise. Volunteers can make use of their talents and start a project such as offering an after school group together with a full-time teacher. This may be sports, music, dance, handcrafts, or any other activity.
Many schools also employ social workers who offer out-of-class activities. Volunteers can also assists them.
One school we co-operate with is Birger-Forell-Sekundarschule in Espelkamp.
House and property administration is something for people who like to work with their hands and help to maintain and build different things.
We normally have a volunteer in UEM Wuppertal who is part of the property administration team.
In Germany, kindergartens do not work like schools for the youngest. Rather, they are places in which children under the age of six spend time together as a group. The kids learn in a non-formal way, by playing with one another, doing handicrafts, singing, romping around etc. Normally, there are about 15-20 children per group with about 3-4 adults taking care of them.
In kindergartens, volunteers can assist in playing with the kids and preparing different activities. It also makes learning the German language very easy with young children, because the volunteer tends to learn with the kids.
Some placements are diaconal institutions and deal with physically or mentally handicapped people. One example are the v. Bodelschwinghschen Stiftungen Bethel, which are also a member of UEM. Bethel is a huge organization with many different departments and many (national and international) volunteers working there. Another organization is In der Gemeinde Leben in Düsseldorf. Institutions for the mentally disabled are convinced that every person – healthy, ill, disabled or not – can live and work together in diversity.
Of course, it depends on the department what the volunteer is going to do. Tasks can be around caring, but also spending time with the disabled. Playing with them, going for walks, preparing food, caring. If the degree of disability is a very high one, the work gets more hospital-like. If children are involved, it may be more like in kindergartens or youth centers.
If you have an interest in working with disabled, diaconal institutions or in the German health care system, you could work in such a placement.
Rina Tarigan was a volunteer in “In der Gemeinde Leben”. In one of her reflection reports she wrote:
"I work in a group, it is called K3. In our group, we accompany eight flat mates and work with them. Every inhabitant is different. They are called […]. All of them are mentally disabled and four them have Autism.
1. C. is very nice. He cannot talk. He does not have teeth, but he loves coffee and there is always force with water. The kitchen always has to take care. But he understands everything the people say.
2. P. is Autistic. But she likes to be quiet and is always annoyed when everyone is noisy. She loves music and sings every day.
3. T. is the smallest. She cannot see well and her food has to always be soft.
4. H. is the most quiet. He is very kind. He understands all conversations and he likes to tell stories. I got many stories by H. T. is H.’s best friend.
5. A. is also very nice. She likes to go for walks in the garden. But often, she eats leafs in the garden. She cannot be by herself during breakfast, lunch and dinner and the co-workers have to feed her.
6. M. is the woman in the wheel chair. She speaks with her computer. She likes to watch TV and to swim. Every day she works in the workshop.
7. S. is the biggest and has autism. He is independent and understands a lot. S.’s Mama calls him every day.
8. G. also has autism. He screams a lot. This is why P. does not like him when they are all together."
Adult education is a very broad field and the tasks vary very much as to the placement. Also, the different interests and skills of the volunteer can be taken into account. Volunteers never give classes themselves, but part of this field is to assist in different activities.
Note, that we do not offer placements in adult education every year.
Congregations often combine different tasks and vary a lot in the field of work. Since congregations offer many different activities for children, youth, families, middle-aged and elderly, volunteers can experience many different activities.
Often, volunteers work in youth centers. This means preparing group activities, joining in summer camps, helping with homework, taking part in youth groups… Other tasks can be assisting children’s programs, taking part in working with the elderly or joining different musical activities such as choirs. Sometimes, congregations have a little café, which opens once or twice a week in which volunteers can assist.
Please note that weltwärts is a secular program and thus it is not part of the volunteer work to be involved in spiritual work. Of course, this does not affect the free time.
In Germany, elderly people are often not being taken care of in the families. This is due to the fact that different generations often do not live together, but adult children live in other cities with their children where they work. If elderly people need assistance to manage their everyday life, there are several social service organizations which take care of this task.
For example, volunteers help in nursing homes, in which they take on caring tasks, help in the kitchen, spend time with the elderly etc.
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