Evelin Hermann spent a year in Rwanda in 2022/23 as a weltwärts volunteer with Friends of Ruanda. Here, Evelin writes about her experiences and projects during her voluntary service.

I’m Evelin, 19 years old and I’m currently doing voluntary service in Rwanda. After I finished school, I wanted to go abroad to see more of the world, get to know new people, cultures and ways of life and to get away from my everyday life and standard of living in Germany.
everyday life and standard of living in Germany. When I was researching opportunities to spend longer periods abroad, I came across the Bad Boller Friends of Rwanda association, which sends volunteers to Rwanda as part of the weltwärts volunteer service.

Weltwärts is a program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) that enables young people to gain experience in countries of the Global South as part of a development volunteer service lasting several months (usually one year). After familiarizing myself with the concept of voluntary service, the country of Rwanda and the projects available there, I relied on my feeling and applied.

I have now been here for a year and a half, have gained an incredible amount of experience and have not regretted for a second that I decided to take this step.

I am currently working on two different projects: Love and Care – Jyambere Mwana and Charis Home Foundation.

Love and Care – Jyambere Mwana is a women’s cooperative for mothers of children with disabilities. The project also includes an inclusive pre-school class for children with and without disabilities. In addition, physiotherapy for children with disabilities is offered both in our center and during home visits. As a volunteer, I can get involved primarily in teaching the preschool class, but also in the home visits and physiotherapy.

I have also been able to implement my own small project: Many of the children with disabilities need to be diapered, but the families cannot afford diapers and therefore often wrap their children in cloth and plastic rags. This often poses a health problem for the children. That’s why I decided to implement a cloth diaper project. The idea of my project was to provide families with reusable cloth diapers so that children can be changed hygienically without incurring additional costs for the families. To this end, I asked diaper manufacturers in Germany to donate diapers.

Two of the diaper manufacturers agreed and so we received enough diapers. When they arrived in Rwanda, we held a small seminar where we invited the families to the center, distributed the cloth diapers and explained how to use and clean them.
and I explained how to use and clean them. The families gratefully accepted the diapers and immediately exchanged them for their old diapers. I am very pleased that I was able to make a small change for these children and families, even if it is only a drop in the ocean.
a small change for these children and families.

Charis Home Foundation, the other project where I work once a week, is aimed at former street children and children from precarious backgrounds. The aim of the project is to reintegrate the children into their families and give them a good education. As the children attend school during the week, the project only takes place on Saturdays. The children are given breakfast and a hot meal for lunch and have the opportunity to try their hand at art, dance and acrobatics lessons.
Problems that may arise at school or at home are also discussed. Charis Home Foundation also helps the families to pay school fees and materials and to take out health insurance. The project
also includes a group of young women, some of whom became mothers very early and unplanned. The women have trained as hairdressers and are now trying to earn some money for themselves and their children with these skills and other small business ideas, such as selling sugar cane, vegetables, fruit, shoes or homemade baskets. We have also planned a small seminar on topics such as sexual education, family planning, etc.

I also experience a lot in Rwanda outside of my projects, get to know new people again and again and develop personally in many ways. In my free time, I do a lot in and around Gisenyi, the town where I currently live, go swimming in
I go swimming, cycling or hiking in Lake Kivu, meet up with friends or go out in the evening. I occasionally spend the weekend in the capital Kigali to meet friends and do other things. I’ve also had the chance to travel to some of the surrounding countries.

My voluntary service will be over in a few weeks and I can look back on 18 months that have shaped and changed me in many ways.
changed me in many ways. During this year and a half, I grew in terms of challenges and was able to gain an incredible amount of experience.

The article was published in a slightly modified form and in German langauge in the 20th issue of the magazine “Gute Zeit” of the Stiftung Tragwerk, which can be downloaded here.