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Volunteer abroad, Gap year in Berlin


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What is a Volunteer Job?

Volunteer service contributes to the well-being of an individual and the community, and is usually coordinated by a non-profit or public sector organization. These positions rarely offer any salary or wage. Volunteering internationally offers a native's perspective into a country, a chance to work with people from around the world, and unparalleled experiences.

Application depends on the organization. Most groups require a formal application, a personal statement, and some kind of deposit. There are periodic deadlines, so check the organization's sites to find out the deadline.

Volunteering in the Germany

Volunteering (Ehrenamtliche Mitarbeit / Taetigkeit) in Germany is not overly common. Social agencies are well developed, leaving less opportunities for casual volunteering. Also, because of Germany's love of regulations, signing contracts and providing insurance makes volunteering difficult. You may also need a referral. Volunteering can be viewed with suspicion has so many people are unemployed, they may question your motives. Most opportunities require at least some German.

That said, there are some organizations within Germany, and many international operations, that allow people to volunteer.

Programs

The Treffpunkt Hilfsbereitschaft - Puts volunteers in touch with agencies/organizations that need volunteers. Information available in English.

AWO - Offers an extensive list of volunteer opportunities.

Caritas Altenhilfe GGmbH - An elder facility in which volunteers help the residents and staff.

Amnesty International - These international organization has a branch in Berlin.

American Church Berlin - Just one of the English speaking churches that accepts help from volunteers.

The European Voluntary Service (EVS)

The European Voluntary Service is a European Union program that offers young people (between 18 and 25) the opportunity to work as a volunteer for six to twelve months in a non-profit project abroad. Three partners are the key partners of an EVS project: the volunteer, the sending organization and the host organization.
The European Commission take in charge the travel costs for the young, the insurance (health, accident, public liability) and provides a monthly allowance from 140 to 220 euros.

How to proceed: Find a sending organization that will assist you individually along the procedure (you can find contacts through you National Agency, your National Coordinator or international volunteer organizations). Start contacting potential host organizations through your sending organization. Keep your fingers crossed and persevere in your search as the difficulty is not to find a suitable project, but to find a project ready to host you within the time limit you have planned.
You can have a look at the European database on accredited host organizations and the Youth organizations.

Insurance Abroad

Travel insurance is one of the best protections a traveler can purchase. Investigate coverage, rates, and compare companies. Not all companies offer equal coverage in different country, so check rates for Berlin.

You might also look at our other articles on Summer Jobs and Internship abroad on the left column of this page.

Update 5/10/2013



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