Volunteering in Ghana - The development volunteer service weltwärts and its impact
The development volunteer service weltwärts was founded in 2008 by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Since then, more than 34,000 volunteers have been sent from Germany and dedicated themselves to development projects. Since 2013 young people from partner countries have also been able to do development volunteer service in Germany. By the end of 2017, 1,381 young people had made use of this opportunity.
The following video was produced by our weltwärts volunteers 2019/2020 during the 5 days final seminar. In a very lovely way they are demonstrating what makes our Aminu Initiative so special to them.
Weltwärts focuses on joint intercultural learning. The funding by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has given all interested young people between the ages of 18 and 28 the opportunity to participate in the learning service. The majority has just finished school and completed their A levels (Abitur). They volunteer for six to 24 months at a local partner organisation in education, health, environment, agriculture, culture or human rights. They are integrated in the partner organisation, support the employees in their work and gradually assume their own responsibilities. The volunteers gain experience abroad and acquire knowledge of the language and personal competencies. After their service, the returning volunteers continue to dedicate themselves to development work in their homelands. As a result, they bring their experiences back to society and make a personal contribution to a fairer world through their assignment abroad.
Our Aminu Initiative attracts many of their volunteers who returned to Germany to get involved in the work.
Anne H. former volunteer about Aminu Initiative:
“In 2018/19 I was a volunteer of the Monika Creche, a Kindergarten located in Tuba-Kokrobite, Ghana. Aminu Initiative is so special to me because you feel that they love what they do and they do it by heart. It is a German-Ghanaian partnerships of equals where intercultural exchange is playing a major role. I am now involved in the workforce weltwärts meaning I am supporting the German weltwärts team with regards of improving the programm and developing further.”
The places of assignment benefit from the fact that young people who are interested in development subjects and cultural exchange support their projects with their own experiences and points of view. In addition to the practical work during their service, the volunteers often also support the projects to which they were assigned after their return, for example, by providing information or collecting donations.
Besides the volunteers, roughly 180 active sending organisations and numerous partner organisations in the countries of assignment are the main actors at weltwärts. They implement the programme in close collaboration and make a considerable contribution to its design.
Since 2012, weltwärts has been combined with other institutions, programmes and initiatives in domestic development work under the umbrella of Engagement Global gGmbH. Engagement Global forwards the subsidies to the sending organisations in Germany and advises them on the implementation of the programme.
Weltwärts is a development learning service
The weltwärts programme is a development volunteer service for all interested young people. The focus is on making a concrete contribution to a development project, as well as learning from each other and facilitating intercultural exchange.
Volunteers support projects
During their assignment abroad, the volunteers support a specific project. They are included in a local partner organisation and support it in their work. They assume additional responsibilities that the organisation could not handle without the volunteer’s involvement. In work with children, volunteers can ensure more intensive support, for example. They can complement lessons at school by holding conversation classes. They bring a new perspective to the project. This can be especially helpful, for example, with tourism projects or the marketing of products. They are multiplicators in the work with young people and can introduce them to subjects especially well thanks to their similar age and points of view. They often develop new ideas and implement new activities as well.
Intercultural exchange is promoted
The volunteers learn the culture of the partner country and exchange ideas and perspectives on the living conditions, attitudes and habits with the people in their environment. At the same time, they let others gain insight into their culture. The intercultural exchange ensures attention and tolerance, contributing to understanding between people. The volunteers also learn to understand global dependencies and interactions better. They reflect their own culture as well as personal ideas and ways of behaviour.
What they experience, is often remembered for a long time and sets the course for the future. After their return, many volunteers continue to support the project in which they were involved or the work of their sending organisation. They plan campaigns with other returning volunteers and advocate a fairer world.
During our final seminar the volunteers were reflecting their service, learning experiences and the impact of the service. Intercultural exchange and awareness of individual, institutional and structural racism is playing an important role in our work. Dr. Faisla Garba who is a member of our international team joined the seminar via video conference. Living in South Africa now, he was born and raised in Ghana and is an expert in the field of racism.
Promoting future generations
Weltwärts promotes future generations in development fields. In the course of assignment abroad, the volunteers gain insight into development cooperation. They acquire linguistic knowledge and competencies in intercultural communication as well as social competencies – properties that are becoming increasingly important in a globalised world. The service helps many volunteers with professional orientation; many decide, for example, to pursue a degree in a development field and make development work their profession.
Funding of volunteer service
Weltwärts is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The ministry assumes up to 75 per cent of the costs for volunteer service. At least 25 per cent of the costs must be covered by the German sending organisation. The volunteers can support their sending organisation in the funding of the volunteer service by collecting donations. However, this is not a requirement for the volunteer service.