The Programm

In a nutshell

We make it possible for young adults from Ecuador, Nepal, Rwanda and Uganda to do a twelve months voluntary service in Germany. The first two volunteers from Ecuador participated in our volunteer program in 2012. In January 2013 the next generation of volunteers from two years from Rwanda and Ecuador each landed in Germany. Due to a change in the time frame of the volunteer cycle, five further volunteers from Uganda, Rwanda and Nepal arrived in Germany at the end of August 2013.


The volunteers work in various social, cultural or environmental projects all over Germany. Since they are doing a voluntary service they do not get paid by the organization. Contact to and exchange with other people is the decisive factor. It is not primarily about the work the volunteers do the aim is rather that they see, hear, tell and share a lot. The service is usually done as part of the federal voluntary service (BFD) which is being sponsored by the federal ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth and which specifically enables foreigner to take part.


The volunteers live in host families so as to enable them to dive deep into German culture, to get to know people of different age groups fast and to enjoy the feeling of having found a home in a foreign country. The families do not recive financial compensation from the Zugvögel. We do take it into consideration when certain projects require an accommodation in a different living situation.

Time frame

01.2012 - 01.2013 - 2 volunteers from Ecuador which we took over from our predecessor association

01.2013 - 01.2014 - 4 volunteers from Ecuador and Rwanda

09.2013 - 09.2014 - 5 volunteers from Nepal, Rwanda and Uganda

09.2014 - 09.2015 – Number of volunteers is decided in the reunion of members

The promotion for every volunteer generation in the respective sending countries starts about a year before the departure. The specific application deadline is set by our cooperation organizations. Half a year before departure the volunteers are being decided upon so that enough time remains to apply for visas.


In all our cooperation countries the number of people with a knowledge of the German language is very small. To avoid restricting our applicants to the small group having attended a German school or having studied German, we don't require prior knowledge of the German language. After the selection of the volunteers they participate a language course in the sending country if that is possible so they have a basic knowledge when they arrive in Germany. After their arrival in Germany they continuously receive further language courses.


The stay involved five seminars. One aimed at preparation a month before departure, one after arrival in Germany, one aimed at reflection in the middle of the stay, one to say goodby before departure at the end of stay and one to post-process the year. The seminars outside of Germany are being conducted by our partners there. With transferring tasks to local structures in the sending countries we want to avoid that selection and preparation of our volunteers is carried out from our western perspective.

Partner organization

A condition that needs to be fulfilled in order for a country to become a Zugvögel partner is the existence of local structures and organizations. They guarantee that the selection of the volunteers as well as preparation and post-processing of the volunteers can be conducted independent from members of our association and other Germans.

Our concept of an exchange based on equality and self-determination involves that we as an association only fulfill those tasks within the program which come up in Germany. We want to give the sending countries the chance to actively shape the program and to take into account their own experiences as well as regional factors.

Sending countries

Every country that has the explained structures and organizations can become a sending country. The number of sending countries is only limited due to the restriction of our own financial means. Our aim is to send two volunteers per generation from every sending country. Once a country has been included in our program the aim is to keep it in the program for the next years.

2012 Ecuador was the only country of cooperation. 2013 it was joined by Rwanda, Nepal and Uganda. Members of our association have additionally absolved voluntary services in Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Benin, Cameroon,Togo, Ghana, Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa, Vietnam and India. When further growth of our association seems sensible we will try to establish further partner organizations aimed at sending volunteers in these countries.


We are a non-profit association and finance ourselves solely with private donations. We are looking for support from foundations and enterprises. In addition to that our Regional Groups are involved in diverse, creative actions so as to win the association continuous or singular donations.

Volunteers within the federal volunteers service receive their pocket money from the project which also covers insurance costs. We finance the flight, the language course and the seminars. Our part then amounts to approximately 4000 € per volunteer, a detailed plan of costs can be viewed as a pdf document. All income from donations is contributed to the volunteer program. Administrative costs are covered by the membership fees.


With the federal voluntary service the Visa question is regulated by § 9.1 of the employment decree. There it says: „ Keine Zustimmung bedarf die Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels an Personen, die im Rahmen eines gesetzlich geregelten oder auf einem Programm der Europäischen Gemeinschaft beruhenden Freiwilligendienst beschäftigt werden“. (“ there is no consent required to facilitate a permit of stay to a person, which is employed as part of a voluntary service which is regulated by law or by a program of the European Community.”)

The experiences from the first year have show us that Visas are generally only given to volunteers participating in the federal voluntary service. Our volunteer in that program had no problems whatsoever with his permit of stay. Another volunteer who would not have worked within the federal voluntary service did not receive a visa due to that exact reason. When we were finally able to find a place for her within the federal voluntary service she belatedly received her visa.

Pedagogical concept

Our pedagogical concept can be found here (German).

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