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Germany launches new volunteer programme for foreign aid projects
04 September 2007

Berlin, Germany: Germany launched yesterday a government-funded program aimed at encouraging up to 10,000 young people a year to work as volunteers in developing countries.

The project — titled "weltwaerts," which translates roughly as "toward the world" — will start work next year, and will allow for volunteers aged between 18 and 28 to spend between six months and two years doing aid work abroad.

The government will provide funding of some €70 million (US$95 million) per year.

"We don't want international engagement to depend on the family wallet," said Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul. "We want it to be open to a broad circle of young people."

Wieczorek-Zeul said several thousand people have already expressed interest in the program.

Weltwaerts plans to send volunteers to Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. The program will cooperate with more than 200 nonprofit aid organizations and private sponsors, and those backers will choose the volunteers.

The Development Ministry will cover the costs of accommodation, travel, training and a small allowance.