Voluntary service abroad – 3 ways to get involved worldwide

Voluntary service abroad - 3 ways to get involved worldwide

Volunteering and gap years are becoming increasingly popular. But where and with whom, so that the trip also has social or ecological added value? We present three voluntary services that offer jobs worldwide.

General information about voluntary services

The positions for voluntary social years, FSJs, and voluntary ecological years, FÖJs, are numerous in Germany. Worldwide volunteer services are also becoming increasingly popular. Logical – because the participants hope to gain new experiences and broaden their horizons. Anyone who has experienced working at the minimum subsistence level will certainly think differently about the products that are bought in every supermarket in Germany for cents.

However, in order to do really good things and not cause any damage in the host country, the choice of a reputable provider is important. As shown, the field of commercial providers of voluntary services is large. However, the offers are geared more to the wishes of the traveler than to the needs of the local population.

Voluntary services thus mutate – not least due to shorter and shorter stays – into a kind of voluntourism, i.e. a kind of tourism in the voluntary service. These short-term offers usually do not pay attention to the preparation and follow-up of the voluntary service, which is intended to ensure that the volunteers are sensitized to the culture and peculiarities of their host country.

Instead, tourist short trips are offered, which should make you feel like you are doing something good. The focus is on the personal experience and the trip abroad, the volunteer work is rather neglected. Not to forget, of course, the environmental impact of such a trip, during which the aircraft can hardly be avoided.

It is therefore important to choose a suitable provider:

  1. Choosing a reputable provider who offers intensive preparation and follow-up of the voluntary service and thus supports you in adjusting to the peculiarities of the travel destination.
  2. A realistic assessment of your own skills. Before starting a voluntary service, you should be clear about whether the task area corresponds to your strengths, whether you have enough time to get involved in the challenging situation and whether you start the voluntary service with the right motivation. What are your expectations? Are you ready to adapt to the customs and customs of your host country?

When making your first decision, we will give you a few suggestions below and introduce four non-commercial volunteer services.

Voluntary service all over the world

At Naturweit, the focus is on the human-nature relationship (Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / Free-Photos)

On October 1, 2018, the German UNESCO Commission and the Federal Foreign Office announced that the new nature-based voluntary service was launched and is now open to young people who are committed to nature conservation worldwide. The voluntary service should be a supplement to the "culture-wide" program. There are locations worldwide in world natural heritage sites, geoparks and biosphere reserves.

The focus is on the relationship between people and the environment and the promotion for a deeper understanding of this relationship. The volunteers should support the work in the nature conservation area and gain experience in the area of ​​sustainable development.

Here are the facts about the service:

Where: Worldwide in natural heritage sites, biosphere reserves and geoparks

Who: Young people between the ages of 18 and 26

How long: half a year, start in March or September

Canditature: , for spring in October, for autumn from early November to early December

Carrier: German UNESCO Commission, funded by the Federal Foreign Office

Working for people and culture with culture-wide

With kulturweit, 3,700 volunteers have been sent abroad since 2009. The voluntary service gives you the opportunity to get involved in foreign educational and cultural policies. For example, you can help with German classes in foreign schools or work for cultural programs at Goethe Institutes.

Here too there are intensive preparatory and follow-up seminars. The voluntary service is designed to help shape an inclusive and cosmopolitan society.

Here are the facts about the service:

Where: Worldwide in cooperation with schools, Goethe institutes and similar

Who: Young people between the ages of 18 and 26

How long: 6 or 12 months, starting in March or September


Carrier: German UNESCO Commission, funded by the Federal Foreign Office

Visit the world with weltwärts

The classroom is a possible travel destination with weltwärts (Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / Wokandapix)

The weltwärts voluntary service was launched in 2008 and offers development policy positions in developing countries. Measured by the number of volunteers, it is the largest voluntary service in Europe. Around 35,000 volunteers traveled to countries in Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America, Oceania and Asia with the help of weltwärts.

With the help of a detailed search mask, you can search for places of employment that are almost tailored to your needs. In addition to information about the target country, you can search for specific areas of use and spoken languages ​​and restrict the period.

For example, you can do your voluntary service in a Brazilian national park, support the municipal administration in India in planning city development, or work at a Montessori school in Ghana.

Here are the facts about the service:

Where: Global South countries with a focus on Africa

Who: Young people between the ages of 18 and 28

How long: 6-24 months


Carrier: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

International youth volunteer service

The international youth volunteer service is under the patronage of the Federal Ministry for Families, Seniors, Women and Youth. It has 130 sponsoring organizations in all federal states to which the volunteers can apply directly. The sponsoring organizations are all audited and meet a number of requirements.

The sponsors include, among others, district associations of the Red Cross, the International Confederation and many church institutions. The locations are correspondingly widely spread. The application is usually sent directly to the respective institution.

Here are the facts about the service:

Where: Countries worldwide

Who: Young people between the ages of 18 and 26

How long: 6 to 18 months, usually 12 months

Canditature: You can see directly from the respective institution who offers everything.

Carrier: 130 organizations, responsibility at

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