Framework Conditions

Mid term seminar 2011 in the Westbank

Support of the Volunteers

Augenhöhe and the cooperation partners are always there for the volunteers. We want to be reliable and trustworthy partners. Especially in case of private issues or problems in the projects, we want to give the volunteers the best possible support, and so help to jointly find a solution that all can live with.

We also support our volunteers in organisational matters. That includes obtaining visa, accommodation during their year and insurance. The volunteers will generally live either in a shared flat or with a host family.

We and our cooperation partners comprehensively prepare the volunteers, they have halfway- and debriefing seminars as well as continuous support during their entire stay. Further, we provide thorough language teaching before and for some time after departure.

Preparation, Support and Debriefing

Volunteers will be extensively prepared and supported during their stay, and will also get support after it is finished.

  • Immediately after the selection, there is individual language preparation, which will continue with an intensive language course after the volunteers have arrived. All volunteers take part in a preparation seminar lasting several days. The host society will receive them warmly and they will have special support in the beginning. During the year, the volunteers are supervised by go-to persons from their country of origin and from the host-society
  • After about a half year there will be a halfway-seminar that will allow the volunteers to reflect on what has passed, to exchange views with other volunteers and to get in the mood for the rest of their stay and beyond.
  • After they return, the volunteers will again have the opportunity to exchange views with others and to reflect on the past year at a debriefing seminar, which should make re-entry easier. Beyond that, volunteers can always get in touch with their contact persons.

It is important to us that the volunteers also get in touch with their predecessors, other former volunteers and local contacts, because they often have a better understanding of local issues and circumstances.

Duration and Project Work

Experience has shown that a stay of 12 months makes sense, because learning the language, acclimatising and getting to know the country and the direct surroundings, and thus really becoming a constructive member of the project, take time. The actual length of the service abroad will be determined before the departure to the host country.

Volunteers will spend five days and not more than 35 – 39 hours per week working in their project.

Funding

Because of differing circumstances in their countries of origin, the funding arrangements for outgoing and incoming volunteers differ. In general, both programmes are funded by ENGAGEMENT GLOBAL on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Besides, Augenhöhe e.V. is in favour of establishing a circle of donors.

a) Sent volunteers (from Germany):

Out of conviction and after long experience, we are in favour of each volunteer establishing a circle of donors for funding their stay abroad. In order to fund such a stay with all its various aspects (visa, flights, accommodation, food, spending money, insurance etc.), great efforts and much creativity is needed.

We are convinced that taking responsibility and commitment in collecting donations are important criteria and clear indicators of the success of a volunteer’s year. Establishing a circle of financial supporters also poses an opportunity to get a wider public to take notice of the issues and the principles of our involvement and in the places and circumstances of our projects.

To allow all to take part in such an exchange who wish to – regardless of their family’s economic situation or their educational status – calls for active solidarity and support. That includes for instance co-volunteers and the Augenhöhe supervisors.

If in spite of the greatest efforts from all sides, the costs for the year can not be covered by the volunteers’ circle of supporters, then Augenhöhe would together with them try to find solutions that will make their service possible. We are full of confidence that this is achievable and will not leave them on their own.

b) Received volunteers (from Palestine):

The project positions in Germany are certified for the Bundesfreiwilligendienst (German Federal Voluntary Service – Bufdi). A number of the costs incurred (spending money, insurance and accompanying seminars) are therefore covered by the Bufdi. Establishing a circle of financial supporters in Palestine might be difficult. Augenhöhe will do this for the first year’s volunteers. In order to avoid that financial issues prevent people from applying, Augenhöhe will, together with the volunteers, try to raise funds not only before but also during their stay. But again, commitment and initiative will be essential.

Visas

Experience has shown that obtaining a visa is a complex and protracted process. Both Augenhöhe and the volunteers need to get involved: We will gather all the necessary information concerning visas, but the volunteers are responsible for filing the applications on time and complying with all requirements, such as the expiry date of the passport. In case a visa needs to be extended, the volunteers also have to take care of that themselves.

Insurance

Augenhöhe will take out a basic insurance package for the duration of the year that will include an international health, liability, accident and disability insurance

Certification

After the conclusion of their voluntary service, all volunteers will receive a certificate from Augenhöhe and (if applicable) the project. Concerning the official certification of services, there currently is a different procedure for sent and received volunteers:

a) Sent volunteers (from Germany):

Whether the year of service can be officially certified as a voluntary service is not entirely clear at this point in time. In some cases (when receiving child benefits or for maintaining a place at university) this can be important.

b) Received volunteers (from Palestine):

The received volunteers serve as part of the Bundesfreiwilligendienst (German Federal Voluntary Service – Bufdi), and so their service is officially certified.