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The volunteering service weltwärts

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The volunteering service weltwärts


Through the development volunteer service ‘weltwärts’ (towards the world), 2 young South Africans can spend between 12 and 18 months volunteering full-time with Democracy International in Germany every year. During their stay in Germany, they receive a monthly stipend to cover their costs.

weltwärts is all about active citizenship, global and intercultural learning & exchange. Hence, volunteers attend a 25-day workshop series on global issues together with volunteers from other weltwärts-host organisations.

The weltwärts programme is a joint operation between the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the service for developmental initiatives Engagement Global and civil society.

Our sending partner organisation CIVICUS is based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Thanks to them, in May 2022, we welcomed the first two young and motivated volunteers from South Africa at our Democracy International office in Cologne!

You’re interested? These are the formal criteria:

  • You are from South Africa
  • You are between 18 and 28 years of age. In exceptional cases participants aged 29 or over may be admitted.
  • You are in good enough health to complete a volunteering assignment abroad.
  • You have a school-leaving qualification, a vocational qualification or equivalent work experience.
  • You are a team player and open-minded.
  • You are enthusiastic about democracy and development issues.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

More info at:


Understanding and meaning of the volunteering service for Democracy International

  1. As the global network for direct and participatory democracy, Democracy International successfully works with citizens, civil society, administrations, and governments in many parts of the world to deepen democracy, including between elections. Through our activities, many people have been able to realise their potential as supporters and advocates for democracy and become problem solvers for their own issues. Empowering youth and young people in all parts of the world to step up for their ideas and values, and to become part of this international democracy community is one of Democracy International’s goals. Together with several other international and European programmes and activities offered at Democracy International, weltwärts supports Democracy International in realising young peoples’ potential. With weltwärts Democracy International can support and accompany two young people in their development and active citizenship for one year. Compared to interns, there is a deeper entry into the transnational (direct) democracy topic. We would like to offer these learning experiences also to rather inexperienced and disadvantaged young people, since interns are often already very far in their personal development and have completed several foreign experiences. Democracy International aligns with our partner organisation CIVICUS’ focus on promoting excluded voices, which as a result has also become one of Democracy International’s goals within weltwärts.
  2. As an organisation, Democracy International gains insights into supporting young people and especially young people from the Global South. The world of democracy needs young talent and transnational democracy needs strong voices from the Global South. Therefore, we are also interested in the long-term development of a network with different volunteer cohorts e.g. in the context of return work.
  3. Strengthening our organisation through more diversity and increased involvement of people from the Global South. Both, the core team and interns, create an international community, however, currently, only a few members of this community are from the Global South. This has several reasons among which the administrative hurdles in the EU that make it difficult to hire a person from outside the EU. Nevertheless, we would like to include the valuable perspectives of the Global South at Democracy International as much as possible. Even if volunteers do not replace a position, they contribute significantly to the further development of Democracy International through their experiences.
  4. As many established programmes foster North-South mobility, one of Democracy International’s reasons for supporting volunteers in taking part in weltwärts as the Trägerorganisation and for hosting volunteers at our office as the Einsatzstelle is to contribute to a more even distribution of mobility by increasing South-North mobility through the volunteering service.
  5. Through weltwärts Democracy International engages in and promotes critical discourse about "Germany as a colonial power in Africa" and "German welcome culture", thus breaking down postcolonial structures in Germany.
  6. Democracy International and their partners understand weltwärts as a development cooperation (entwicklungspolitischen) learning service.



Goals of the volunteering service in the area of development cooperation

The South-North component of the weltwärts program has the following objectives:

  • to promote interaction, on an equal footing, between partners from our One World's Global South and Global North, and thus strengthen existing partnerships;
  • to fostering respect for the diversity of people(s), their diverse ways of life and beliefs across the world;
  • to allow volunteers to grow personally in an informal learning process through personal interaction, intercultural exchange and the transfer of knowledge and experience;
  • to foster global learning, sustainable development and live up to our global responsibility to contribute towards realising the SDGs;
  • to strengthen civil society and especially the partner organisations in the South, which benefit as returned volunteers tell others about their experience and continue to be active in civil society; and
  • to provide input and inspiration to development-related work within Germany. Interaction with international volunteers helps to get new target groups interested in development issues.

As the program pursues these goals, attention is given at all levels to gender equality, diversity, and the inclusion of marginalised groups.


Impact objectives


  • are empowered long-term in using their democratic rights through becoming part of the Democracy International network and increasing their understanding of global processes and responsibility through the development cooperation service weltwärts.
  • are empowered by actively participating in shaping a socially responsible society; 
  • are motivated through their experiences with Democracy International to take a global perspective on sustainable development issues; 
  • are empowered to take up their global responsibility to contribute to realising the SDGs;
  • improve their intercultural competence and language skills through the volunteer service including respecting the diversity of people(s), their diverse ways of life and beliefs;
  • can develop their self-image and independence in a foreign country and experience themselves as part of another society where they can also contribute their skills; 
  • learn to deal with challenges of globalisation and to develop their individual possibilities; 
  • take first or further steps towards professionalising their work behaviour.




Website Info

Democracy International is a registered association in Germany
(eingetragener Verein e.V.).

Gürzenichstraße 21 a-c
50667 Cologne
Phone: +49 (0) 221 669 66 50
Fax: +49 (0) 221 669 665 99

Amtsgericht Köln
VR-Nr. 17139

Full website information here

Data protection - Datenschutz


Democracy International e.V.
IBAN: DE 58370205000001515101

Bank für Sozialwirtschaft
Konto: 1515101
BLZ: 37020500


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