In a recent survey, volunteers from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Oceania expressed a high level of satisfaction with their assignments in Germany – despite the restrictions caused by the pandemic. In fact, in some categories, the satisfaction ratings were higher than ever before.
The survey covered all volunteers who completed their assignment in Germany between 15 November 2019 and 15 November 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of them had to suspend their assignments in spring 2020 because they were working with risk groups. The very good results, despite the pandemic, confirm that the weltwärts programme meets the needs of young adults even in difficult times and that the participating organisations in Germany and abroad ensure the development volunteers’ service delivers the best possible experience.
94 percent of the volunteers were (very) satisfied with their assignment overall. There were also very high satisfaction ratings for the individual aspects of voluntary service covered in the survey. 90 percent were (very) satisfied with their place of assignment overall. There were opportunities for the volunteers to get actively involved and their work was appreciated. Satisfaction with the instruction given at the place of assignment even saw a slight increase, with 60 percent of the participants in the current survey stating they were very satisfied (compared to 53 percent in 2019) and the total percentage of volunteers satisfied with this aspect at 95 percent.
Two in three of the volunteers had no or only minimal knowledge of German when they arrived. They developed their language skills during the course of their assignment. Despite some language issues, most volunteers (89 percent) were (very) satisfied with their level of personal contact. The pandemic-related restrictions did not result in lower satisfaction with the degree of social integration. 26 percent reported situations in which they were discriminated against or threatened for racist reasons. 5 percent stated that they were actually threatened personally.
As the previous survey had already shown, participants in the South-North component benefit in various ways from their time as a volunteer. The ratings in the latest survey are similar, indicating that – even under the exceptional conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic – voluntary service in Germany provided valuable learning experiences. 97 percent of respondents developed personally and improved their global awareness. 92 percent stated that their voluntary service had made them more motivated to continue their civic engagement in development. At the time of the survey, 80 percent were already actively involved in volunteering in their home country or were very likely to be in the future.
The volunteer survey aims to ensure that weltwärts constantly evolves as a development learning and exchange service. 2020 saw more than 500 volunteers from the Global South on assignment in Germany. 209 of them (41 percent), representing 47 countries, took part in the survey. Most of the volunteers came from Colombia, India, Mexico or Uganda. The survey participants had a high level of formal education, with 58 percent already having completed a course of study. The average age was 24. weltwärts plans to take on up to 800 volunteers for the current cohort.