Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, choosing to volunteer with weltwärts is still a good decision with hopes high that more volunteer assignments will be able to take place as the year progresses – both in Germany and in the Global South.
More than a year on, COVID-19 still has a firm grip on our day-to-day lives and the weltwärts programme continues to feel the impact of the pandemic too. After the successful repatriation of all North-South volunteers last year, the goal is still to keep weltwärts running – despite closed borders, travel alerts and high infection rates in Germany and around the world. Last year, we managed to achieve that as far as possible.
The majority of volunteers did have to terminate or cancel their assignment and the situation poses huge challenges (not just of a financial nature) for the civil society organisations too. However, much was done to make weltwärts possible again – even if things were not quite the same. Early on, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) made a clear commitment to continuing the programme and introduced a package of measures to support the participating organisations. In addition, many volunteers took advantage of the opportunity to spend the first part of their assignment in Germany – an arrangement specially organised in response to COVID-19. They spent six months volunteering in the field of development while they waited to be allowed to leave. A large number of South-North volunteers were also able to extend their assignment in Germany since there was simply no way for them to return to their home countries.
In December, North-South volunteers were finally allowed to travel abroad again – to Rwanda, Uganda or Thailand, making it three countries at least in which they can now volunteer. Hopes are high that that number will increase significantly over the next few months. International volunteers are also coming to Germany again now. As with the volunteers travelling from Germany, they too are, of course, subject to strict hygiene and safety measures. Our volunteers’ health and safety are, naturally, always of utmost priority and assignments only take place where the situation permits.
Every effort is being made to ensure that as many of this year’s cohort as possible can go on assignment. The North-South volunteers will again have the option of starting their assignment in Germany if their departure is postponed due to the infection rate. There are certainly plenty of people interested in volunteering with weltwärts, with many organisations reporting high application rates.
So, for anyone interested in volunteering, it is still a good idea to find out about the possibilities despite COVID-19. The weltwärts sending organisations are the best place to start and can provide help and advice.
All weltwärts sending organisations in our partner countries are listed here: