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Off to South Africa

Erik Hiege from the Kassel plant sets off to become a development volunteer.

Volkswagen is releasing Erik Hiege for five years.

Erik Hiege already has his bags packed. In the middle of August, the Volkswagen employee from the Kassel plant will be setting off for a year in South Africa. The 22-year-old will work as a development volunteer some 9,000 kilometers away from his home country. He will be involved in various social projects on a farm near Johannesburg, including a bicycle repair shop and a not-for-profit shop. There are also a range of projects for children and young people.

» The projects on the farm will enable me to get to know a different culture and develop as a person. «

Erik Hiege

Hiege’s idea of going to South Africa took shape in March. “I would like to make a contribution to the development of the region and the people there. The projects on the farm will enable me to get to know a different culture and develop as a person,” he says, explaining his motivation for participating in voluntary service. This service is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. “We’re not really aware of the luxury we live in these days,” the young man observes. Most people in Germany, he says, simply assume that they will have enough to eat, be able to go to school, and have running water and electricity.

“But I often think that despite all our luxury, we are no happier or more content than people who live at subsistence level in South Africa.”

Despite greatly looking forward to his stay abroad, Hiege did feel a few sad emotions during his final working day at the Kassel plant this month. “I have had a lot of great colleagues here at Volkswagen, and I will miss them,” says the qualified mechatronics engineer, who was most recently employed as an equipment operator in the hardening shop.

He has now been released from Volkswagen for a total of five years. After his one-year voluntary service, Hiege, who is also an amateur footballer, wants to study mechanical engineering in Kassel. “I am very grateful to Volkswagen for this opportunity,” says Hiege, who is sure that he would like to return to the Kassel plant after graduating. “I have always enjoyed working here.”