Broadening Horizons: “Careleaver Weltweit”

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in conversation with scholarship holders
Photo: S. Hobmaier

The opportunity for this meeting arose at the Open Day of the Foreign Ministry in Berlin. Annalena Baerbock took over the patronage of the association’s scholarships abroad only this past spring, so she took advantage of this meeting to learn more about the project in person. “It was a really nice meeting whereby our scholarship holders were the centre of attention”, says Andrea Spennes-Kleutges. “In the process, they were also able to address the hurdles and problems with stays abroad.” While it is almost a matter of course for many young people in Germany to go abroad after leaving school to broaden their horizons and become familiar with other cultures, it can be quite difficult for so-called care leavers, who have spent part of their lives with foster parents or in a youth welfare institution. Since they are left on their own from the age of 18 without any family support, they are deprived of many educational opportunities.

In these cases, the Kreuzberg Kinder- und Jugendstiftung provides targeted assistance: Not only does “Careleaver Weltweit” help young people who want to spend several months abroad as part of an international voluntary service, but it also supports other shorter stays abroad in the context of international youth encounters, work camps or vocational internships. A network of around 40 volunteer mentors provides them with any necessary support before, during, as well as after their time abroad. These mentors have all lived abroad for longer periods of time, and some are care leavers themselves. Moreover, the scholarship holders receive financial support to fund their projects. The amount of this financial support varies depending on the duration and type of stay.

Launched in 2019, the programme will continue and expand with SAGST’s support from 2023 to 2025. “In order for young people who did not grow up in a traditional family setting to take the leap to go abroad, they need information, but also role models, individual support, as well as social and financial security”, explains SAGST project manager Silvia Eller. “They need someone who believes in them and replaces the lack of family support – which is exactly where the Kreuzberg Kinder- und Jugendstiftung comes in.” This is also reflected in the feedback from the scholarship holders: “I wouldn’t have done it without ‘Careleaver Weltweit’. I would never have dared to go abroad on my own”, says a former participant to recap her experience. “Through ‘Careleaver Weltweit’, I got to know a lot more care leavers”, adds another young woman. “I didn’t even know I was part of a community.”