Youth Camps Reports

SOLIDARITES JEUNESSES: AWARENESS RAISING ABOUT PEACE

“When saying Peace to participants a sort of pout emerges. It expresses on one hand this longing for peace and the images of famous figures : Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, a longing for peace building, a longing for heroism. And on the other hand the echo of these beauty contest and Miss Univers asking for peace in the world. In other words, stereotypes. Speeches about peace are never rightly pitched!

This is probably the first battle: to fight against the stereotypes that peace suffers from, and bring it back to its meaning, question always, your relation to the word; what is flower power, Gandhi, equality, black, Moldavian, border, foreigner, nation, migration… “dream”.

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Peace making is very demanding. To make peace asks for a nice atmosphere. Talk and peace are always very linked, as two old friends or an old couple.

Our Peace talks started by a river, getting to know each other having some rest on a Sunday afternoon. Then a call. After a little energizer, two teams, in each team someone will run to a basket full of words (everyone will have to run) and make the others guess what he found in the basket, lots of fun (a bit of cheat) and some long moment: how could a Mexican draw a Moldavian?

Trying to understand what is stereotyping by drawing others, by the deconstructing of the ‘othering’ process. The discussions in these talks were smooth; mainly because the volunteers were very respectful of each other, trying not to make side conversations, trying to listen to the others, trying to talk with their own feelings and experiences. Very enjoyable. Listening, understanding; talking a virtuous circle.

In our house you had papers explaining what is popular education and especially the difference between formal, un-formal and non-formal, education: we learn everywhere, the difference lies in our relation to how much it is clear that you learn what you learn. The second workshop was closer from the in-formal education than non-formal one, we went to visit a party of the union ‘la confédération paysanne’, questioned the reason of a union and the position of this union, a human sized agriculture and the need for a proper food, what marked the most was the rhythm of the feminist band les  malcoiffée, the affirmation of sexuality need for love, for culture, singing in occitan. During the concert an estonian volunteer explained me what was to her ‘women power’; “to feel I can say what I am”.

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Understand what is stereotyping: take a chance to conscientiously stereotype the other.  You are going to stereotype your fellow volunteers. On their forehead is a word, that word is what other told you about this person, do treat them as when you receive such a piece of information about someone.

Peace is a big word but when you bring down this cloud from its stratosphere, you get drops. Small things that can be felt on one skin’s. How can one understand this link between peace and smallness, peace and personal experience, peace and everyday action? What is peace, for you. Can you tell us some personal moment of peace? Asked the volunteers to the villagers. Beyond my favorite answers some that I really like: “

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Photo credits: Solidarités Jeunesses

SOLIDARITES JEUNESSES: BUILDING A BRIDGE

“The arrival is always a bit shy, volunteers look at each other, without talking so much, not very sure it was ‘this’ that they expected.

The villagers quite soon came to greet us and help settle a nice atmosphere. It is funny how these people relate to conversations completely differently then what we are used to. There is no point on saying something interesting, it is just life talks, small talks, a truth, the weather, and sometimes silence. Even the silence is comfortable.

We sleep in a gymnasium, our room is massive, mattresses are on the floor, we have space.

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This opening of the perspective is great, you can feel it in the morning, when at 8 we hear the big truck coming, it is right after the eight jingles of the bell. A little energizer and we are stuffed in the trailer.

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How free and spacious, we get to see the blue sky and the yellow meadow. Starting from small roads, we get to see the immensity from the top of the hill, in between hills, we get to feel the fresh breeze, and sometimes a small branch on the face!

The truck will slow its speed, we are getting to the mud, we are going down hoping not to slide down the slippery slope.

Going down the valley is like taking a natural elevator, from the tops you slowly go down the trees, until the truck stops and the bridge appears. Two arches, one small river. Soon people we’ve never heard of will be able to go over this river without getting wet. We build up the walls of this bridge, we cement the outside walls, we fill the inside of the bridge with rocks, the Tetris activity.

When we come back from our day of labour, we find a couple with a neat set table and gorgeous organic plate full of home made colors, and local perfumes. All this comes from the organic farm near-by, all this took time to grow. For all these single tomato, pepper, zucchini, loads of human hands to pluck out the weeds… How many hours of work for such a delicious result?

After the meal some leave to drink their coffee, others stay at the table, talking, small talks, big talks, the sun is passing the shadow, the eyelids feel heavy, siesta.

“Why would you dance this when you have clubbing!” why would you make this circle and change partner after 15 steps! Why would whirl around and nearly lift your partner… I didn’t realize this dance could be so much fun! We all said during our local dance night organised with the local youth and local experienced youth!

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Thanks to informal and non formal education we questioned during this workcamp, our relation to culture, our relation to nature. V2A helped this, we had this theme, we had to play, dance, look for falling stars, our questioning fun left us with many answers and great memories.”

Photo credits: Solidarités Jeunesses

VJF: LIEPNITZINSEL 2

“Dear future Teamer of the next workcamp on the island Liepnitzinsel,

First of all: you made a very good choice, congratulations! I hope you will have good weather!

Here are some hints for you and your group.

1) No electricity: it sounds worse than it is. You just have to switch in you mind. Don’t forget torches and candles.

2) Water: you are surrounded by water, so don’t panic. Don’t forget OUTDOOR soap. It saved our lives, because we could clean in the lake during very cold weather without polluting the eco-system. Please keep the showers clean, but the water there is freezing.

3) Food: don’t worry, you will not starve. We will get the opportunity to do the shopping on regular terms and the foresters will bring their vegetables and fruits from their own gardens. Very tasty and really fresh!

4) Leisure time: we have spent our free time with sleeping, eating and sports (soccer, volleyball, swimming, rowing). Excursions through the forests are really fun. Don’t make too many plans, most ideas appeared spontaneously.

5) Work: the work was really nice and you will learn so much, it was amazing! The foresters are very helpful and we had a lot of fun.

So, dear teamer, good luck and have fun!”

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(Photo credits: VJF)

 

UVDA: RWENZORI MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

“The youth action camp generally lasts for two to three weeks but in this case The WHV- Rwenzori Mountain National park camp lasted for two weeks due to an avoidable circumstances and accommodates10-30 volunteer participants between the age of 18 – 45years.They involved young  people from different organization e.g. Wildlife Clubs of Uganda, Mountaineering club Rwenzori,and the local council Authorities of Rwenzori to mention a few.They undertook concrete action of sensitizing the communities around the site in particular the main entrance of Rwenzori Mountain National park. Volunteers displayed a banner and T-Shirts which played an active role in the promotion and preservation of the World Heritage. In the UNESCO umbrella we managed to establish strong networks for establishing of strong communication strategies. Various stakeholders were able to visit us and find out what is happening and how best there can contribute to the success of the project. In all we used the communication and networking strategies which we intend to improve on for better results as this was our first work camp on the site and the area. The main highlights were the planting of trees together with communities which brought better communication or delivery of info to the community easily. Secondly, a work camp method help in the intercultural exchange thereby improving communication and networking.”

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School outreach program me a group photo with a school in Ruboni community

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Staff briefing at the Rwenzori Mountains National park office we are saying lets take it out of office down to the community

(Photo credits: UVDA)

 

KVDA: YOUTH ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT (YELD)

 

This workcamp aimed at working hand in hand with the Community for the success of a School in Kenya.

The group of volunteers moulded a total of four thousand bricks that will be useful in the completion of the construction work begun at the School by the previous teams of volunteers that moulded over ten thousand bricks since the inception of this project in partnership with KVDA.DSCN3926

The local community got the platform to interact with the local and international volunteers on this project and this opportunity ensured the exchange of best practices among the participants from and the insight on the need for community of efforts in order to tackle the emerging developmental challenges within the local community.

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The majority of the young people within the community had the opportunity to learn livelihood skills and specifically with regard to the Youth Entrepreneurship and Leadership development program that was the flagship of this project and whose aim was to empower members of the local community to have the capacity to confront development challenges within the community.

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Development education was actuated during this project with the major objective to empower community based organisation with relevant skills to confront challenges that weigh down the community in its quest to enhance sustainable development.

(Photo credits: KVDA)

CONCORDIA: LE MANS 1

In July 12 volunteers gathered in Le Mans, France to participate in a workcamp aiming to allow inhabitants of a popular neighborhood to participate in street activities. The activities were all developed thanks to used materials and focused on environmental consciousness rising. For example the volunteers organised a big game about consumption impact for kids, making them run to get some food that comes from far away and comparing the energy being used to run to the energy of good transportation. It led to a very nice debate about local consumption and local economy.

Some of the highlights of the workcamp :

  • Volunteers organised a party in the neighborhood at the end, where inhabitants got together with them. They played together soccer and “petanque” (a local activity), people who usually don’t go out in the street and didn’t know each other before, despite being neighbors.
  • One of the family of African background, invited the volunteers at home to dinner, it was a huge intercultural meeting for the volunteers (all Europeans) to sit on the carpet and eat Senegalese food in the same plate all together. They loved it.

Autonomy, self management, wood working, living together, intercultural competences …are some of the numerous topics that a workcamp can teach you. But the Vision to Action project reminds us, that we can use this incredible moment to go even further and raise consciousness about sustainability, about environment and about social challenges such as migration.

FIYE POLAND: WIELISZEW

The workcamp in Wieliszew community was organised in cooperation with local town hall for the 10th time this year. Since the beginning, local government decided to organize it as a tool to raise awareness about environmental issues and by presence of groups of international volunteers trying to raise attention to the topic and open discussion in local community.

This year they hosted 13 international volunteers from 11 countries: Ukraine, Serbia, Mexico, South Korea, Italy, Turkey, Taiwan, Russia, France and Spain.

Volunteers had 2 tasks: to clean green areas together with locals and to renovate one of the playgrounds for children. They arrived with a very good attitude, full of energy and ready to work. They spent the first few days renovating a playground and then they moved on to cleaning green areas of the community. They were very happy seeing that they were able to help the community and that their – renovated playground – will be used by local children and that they did something that can be remembered.

The group was living in a school building which is empty during summer so they could freely use the whole place. They had access to the kitchen to prepare meals for themselves. The group was cooking together and they had a lot of fun trying to prepare dishes from their home countries using products available in Poland. Twice during the workcamp they also prepared international dinner, inviting local youth, so they could present their meals, share food and party together. At the beginning of the workcamp and during the workshop they discussed about sustainable food products and they were trying to practice the knowledge.

During the first week a workshop about sustainable development was organised for international volunteers and locals. Through exercises, developed during the V2A training about sustainable development which took place in January in Germany, they discussed about the topic, exchanged knowledge, ideas and best practices from their countries. Participants were very happy to learn something new about the topic and to listen how situation looks in different parts of the world.

After intensive 2 weeks, the group left Wieliszew full of new ideas, friends and experiences. We hope that this will encourage them to look further into the topic of sustainable development and that  they will continue to make a change in their home communities as they did for this small community near Warsaw.

IWO: BUILDING GREEN SOCIETY

During 10 days in July /August 2015, twelve volunteers gathered in Busan, Korea to build better environment for the villagers. Busan is the 2nd biggest port city in Korea and as the city is developing the environmental concerns increase. The volunteers had various activities to solve the local issues such as cleaning and preserving water supply source, helping local people to clean the village, gardening and mural painting for the village renovation.

The volunteers set up a big tent for the shadow in the village community center.

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Volunteers cleaned the water supply source.

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And decorated the village environment.

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(Photo credits: IWO)

BVBP: YOUTH DEVELOPMENT CENTER OF PALCA COMMUNITY

The project was developed in the Community Youth Center Palca, in the Andes of Peru.

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The objective being to raise public awareness of the care and conservation of the environment and strengthen the work of the “Young Leaders in Action” program with healthy housing and construction of ecological cookers project; 15 local, national and international volunteers participated during two weeks in this project.

We thank the community, families, authorities, young people who participated and supported the development of the project.

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(Photo credits: BVBP)

FSL INDIA: SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION, ORGANIC FARMING AND ENVIRONMENT

This work camp took place in Kundapur from 13th to 26th of July 2015 and we developed activities related to sustainable agriculture, kids and culture.

Volunteers from Belgium, France, Greece, Spain and Italy participated in this work camp with lots of energy and team spirit. They involved in agriculture activities like renovation of trenches, digging pits for fruit plants, fruit plantation and fencing work. They also actively involved in activities like wall painting at kinder garden, making kitchen garden and playing with kids.

Volunteers conducted play for peace session, drawing competition on environment to high school students and distributed prizes. They also visited temples, beaches, Indian family as a part of culture visits.

Volunteers enjoyed all the activities and also learned about agriculture methods and Indian culture. Team leader Sandeep, HBP team, Local volunteer, MSW students also participated in this work camp.

(Photo credits: FSL India)

JAVVA: L’ENFACE DE L’ART

“L’Enfance de l’Art”, created in 1997, is a non profit organisation whose aim is to help parents to become more involved in their children’s education. To that purpose, the organisation set up hosting facilities for children or people with reduced autonomy, leisure workshops, nurseries, schools. The organisation follows Steiner pedagogy principles and hosts about 105 children from 0 to 12 years old. The organisation is now established in the former boarding school of « Dames de la Providence ». These buildings were dilapidated and deserted since 2004 before the parents of the organisation decided to begin renovating them using only ecological techniques and that’s where the workcamp stepped in!

In partnership with a construction company focused on social improvement, l’Enfance de l’Art organised their third renovation workcamp in this former boarding school. This company uses ecological material and techniques that are in harmony with our environment.

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This 3-weeks international workcamp gathered international volunteers from Belgium, France, Russia, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic, Taiwan, South Korea, Turkey and the Netherlands. Other external volunteers came to help some days, they were from Belgium, France, Turkey, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Portugal, leading volunteers to experience an intercultural environment in which English was the main language.

Volunteers worked on the renovation of a building in order to turn it into a new daycare centre for children from 2 to 3 years old and related premises. They were asked to work, in 2 or 3 teams, on different techniques and activities:

  • Wall scarping and application of coating (straw/hemp and lime)
  • Clay coating
  • Disassembly of the building and sorting of materials
  • Renovation works in the gardens and the courtyard
  • Participation to the management and the preparation of a community kitchen of good quality

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Besides the ecological aspect of the work itself, an important focus was made on sustainable food as the group of volunteers was in touch with a local farmer during the project and most of the food used to cook during the workcamp was from his local production. This local farmer also organised with local musicians a dancing ball with folkloric music and dances for the volunteers.

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The workcamp took place in Templeuve is a small town 2 km away from the French border, 20 km away from Lille (France) and 10 km away from Tournai. Tournai is a city that attract people who like old stones, History, museums,… Tournai cathedral has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The school itself is surrendered by fields and located not far from a forest and a canal, volunteers therefore organised many walks in the neighborhoods during their free time.

This international workcamp was a great success, as the planned activities were carried out, our local partner was very satisfied with the group’s work and the feedback we received from the volunteers were very positive and enthusiastic.

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(Photo credits: JAVVA)

 

VOLUNTEERS FOR PEACE: GREENING THE PARK

Volunteers For Peace has been collaborating with the Montpelier Parks and Recreation Department for more than 20 years. This mutually beneficial relationship has resulted in the development of miles of trails, stone walls, river protection, so many natural benches, and a deep appreciation from residents Montpelier (the capital of Vermont) for International Voluntary Service.

This year eight volunteers from seven countries arrived to continue the work of past groups. One of the main tasks was to build a playground for children using only natural materials. This playground is near the river and was destroyed in a huge flood a few years ago. There is a nice walking path that is highly utilized nearby and the idea was for parents to be able to stop and let their children play for a little while. In addition they have the goal of introducing nature to citizens at the youngest age possible so this is a natural playground.

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The volunteers worked together with the Park Director to come up with things they could build from natural materials. They also designed them together and had to learn about proportions, strength, and even safety concerns. The first week a lot of time was spent gathering supplies. This meant going into the forest and finding trees of the correct size and features and ocks with the proper surface and shape to create the structures designed.

Volunteers learned how to cut trees, remove the bark, connect pieces, hammer, shovel, dig and more. A lot of laughter ensued. Through all of this volunteers were able to interact with the local citizens as they walked the trails and watched the progress of this new space.

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In addition to working really, really hard the volunteers played really, really hard in the natural playground of Vermont. This mean trips to local rivers to climb rocks and jump into the water, kayaking in Lake Champlain, hiking mountains and more. A great time was had by all!

(Photo credits: Volunteers For Peace)

SJ VIETNAM: SUSTAINABLE TOURISM IN TRIEM TAY ECO-VILLAGE

My name is Jane and I was a member of the student group taking part in the summer program last year in Triem Tay, Hoi An.

The group was divided into 5 team members. Our team was comprised of Vietnamese college students and some foreign volunteers in the 19-25 age range. This program established by UNESCO had completely changed our minds about volunteering activities because we had to do real voluntary work. I mean it. It was not easy, at all.

This was the first time I’d experienced exotic things that I had never had in the last 20 years. During 12 days, we slept outside, I was so excited because it was my first time and before closing my eyes there was always a starry sky up there, suffering from incomplete sleeps because of mosquitos. There was no hot water, no electricity at night, and only 2 toilets for everyone. We started to work from 5 am in the morning till 5 pm in the evening, slept in only 5 hours per day. No matter how hard it was, we did not complain about anything although we was born and raised in the city, we were not familiar with all the new stuff mentioned above. At the beginning, I was a little bit sad and lonely because I did not know anybody out there. But things changed gradually, I started to get accustomed to the work and I made friends with others whom I still kept in touch with. And I learnt something new every day from the people I worked with, from other students, from those activities we did together. We did the cleaning, we practiced performances for street art show. Plus, we planted grasses with Vietnamese traditional tools.

One activity that I had memorable memories was the process of setting up a photo exhibition to preserve the village renowned for the traditional craft of weaving sleeping mats. We had to prepare many things for the exhibition. I still borne in mind the day I had to wake up early at 4 am to follow the locals to the field. Whilst observing them to harvest rushes, dry then weave them to make sleeping mats. Our team had 8 members took 1000 photos per day and it took us a long time to sort out the most impressive beautiful shots to show people. Eventually, we all were exhausted but satisfied because at least we not only contributed to the preservation of the traditional village but also depicted the spiritual beauty of the village. Through those activities, I acknowledged the importance of protecting traditional cultures in this modern world.

Besides, other teams were supposed to do a survey related to making a business in tourism, they came to each households to make interviews. They were also in charge of designing the model tour for the locals, recommending them to pay a visit to other villages nearby to learn about the method they did homestay tourism.

Apart from those hard-working days, I missed the days walking along the river, exploring Hoi An – the quaint village.

Above all, I believe these days watching the sunset on the river, watching ferries passing by and listening to the lovely local dialects will follow me for the rest of my life and become precious moments in my youth

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(Photo credits: SJ Vietnam)

ASTOVOT: GREEN WORLD

The objective of this project was to promote a biological agriculture through a production system and ecological activities and support the use of local products based on a responsible and well-balanced consumption.

This initiative, part of the “Vision to Action” campaign,  has brought a positive contribution to our community. It has in fact reinforced our knowledge and capacities concerning how to improve sustainable lifestyle through training and workcamp.

Today, we really feel a change in the communities where we are raising awareness on sustainability and protection of environment. Although it’s not enough, it is a good beginning and we hope to find the way to involve people in the future…

(Photo credits: ASTOVOT)

 

VOLUNTEERS FOR PEACE: BRINGING THE WORLD TO NEWPORT

This year marks the 30th anniversary of international volunteers serving in Newport, New Hampshire. This small town, population ~7,000, has grown to eagerly anticipate the arrival of a new group of international friends each year.

For the past 11 years the international volunteers have been part of a three-way partnership between the Newport School District, the Revitalization Committee, and Volunteers For Peace. Through this collaboration international volunteers “teach” high school students about their countries for two weeks each summer. The students attending this summer course have failed a class during the school year and might night be able to graduate or continue with future plans unless they can earn these credits. The Newport School District runs the class and oversees the curriculum. The Revitalization Committee is made from representatives of many community organizations who work together to keep Newport vibrant, healthy, and meeting the needs of all their citizens. They assist by providing additional community projects, planning free time activities, and fundraising to cover the cost of running the project.

Newport_30 years (2)This project is a huge success for volunteers and students alike. Both groups achieve some of the greatest outcomes of international voluntary service including: improved communication skills, higher self-value, ability to work with those who are different from you, and stronger leadership skills.

During the two weeks the international volunteers lead classes for students on their cultures. They focus on peace and human rights, climate and environmental challenges, family structure, political systems, art, food, and more. In their free time the local students share their community with the international volunteers and continue to learn through informal discussions about music, parents, and life. This project culminates with a community gathering where the students present what they have learned about the cultures they studied.

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International volunteers are struck by the challenges these students face to complete the course, the difficulties they have had to overcome in their lives, and their openness. The local students are amazed the international volunteers chose to spend their summer vacation VOLUNTEERING!, have traveled so far, can’t imagine a place like Newport, and are so open. Great friendships are formed and the world becomes a smaller and more connected place in Newport, New Hampshire each summer.

(Photo credits: Volunteers For Peace)

VOLUNTARY WORKCAMPS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA: PERMACULTURE FOREST GARDEN

The Permaculture Forest Garden is a grassroots project that focuses on promoting environmental education and sustainable development in the area. The project was created in 2011 and is being supported by local and international environmental activists. It is situated on the peninsular that separate the Lagos lagoon from the Atlantic ocean, In the past the area was covered by rainforest but human impact has led to the heavy degradation of the soil through activities such as deforestation, poaching, slash and burn farming and overgrazing by cattle. There are prevalent challenges identified within the project, such as sustaining structures on the project site and creating a sustainable impact on the surrounding/forest dependent populations.

The workcamp, being held for the first time this year, was aimed at engaging volunteer in sustainability activities at the centre, 13 volunteers from diverse background participated in the workcamp. Participants engaged in activities learning about themes/issuess related to V2A Project such as; sustainability and its three dimensions: Economic, Social and Environmental; climate change science and SDGs. Through other practical workshops Volunteer picked up some complementary skills on how to produce house hold items from waste materials, bio soap, and bio insect repellent.

IMG_20151003_113935A permaculture expert was invited to provide us with an introductory insight on principles of Permaculture, how to domestically reuse waste materials, how to make bio insect repellents from plants, uses of some plants for herbal remedies. Discussion about climate change and its reality on the local regional clime was rife.

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It was also crucial that awareness is raised among local people about how they can mitigate the effects of climate change and arrest the high level of deforestation occurring in the surrounding environment. We engaged the local residents in these dialogues, encouraging them to plant more trees; the centre is planning to establish a well-defined tree nursery that the locals can also access when they need tree seedlings to reforest the land.

On the work part of the workcamp we were able to achieve the construction of wooden benches at the meeting area under the broad mango tree and the renovation of the farm house floor.

We also had nice free periods which were happily spent in visiting the point of no return, some museum and relic about slave trade in Badagry. Some of us visited Ilaje fishing community, and after that long walk some cooled down with a swim in the ocean, while others enjoyed the energetic breeze of the ocean.

Many volunteers were having their first workcamp experience at this camp, but they gave new ideas and proved positive in illuminating some promising strategies for incorporation the sustainable development agenda of the permaculture project. The workcamp was highly successful in its impact on volunteers, because at the end of the camp volunteers expressed their interest to participate in future sustainability Workcamps and follow up on the project’s development.

(Photo credits: VWAN)

LUNARIA: HARVEST AND THRESHING FEASTS

Our workcamp was taking place in Collesano, a lovely Sicilian village with a perfect location: in the mountains (with the fresh and clean air coming from them!), but not far from the sea, close to Cefalù and Palermo (which was really pleasant for our days off!).

1480640_10206929813186140_292996120405609752_nOur group of 14 volunteers (a big family!) was the first one going there and people showed us a big interest and were really welcoming! Our project was focused on the cleaning and valorization of the common spaces of the village. We worked in several spots: public garden, convent, piazza, mountain bike field and with several groups from the village. It was funny to see our Siberian guy teaching to the Korean girl how to use the different tools, the French girl teaching the Turkish one how to prepare the quiche, the Costa Rica boy to teach salsa to the girls from the workcamp, one of the Italian lady showing to the volunteers how to do yoga… We all learnt a lot from each other and laugh a lot too!

People from Collesano were really curious and often coming to us, trying to speak half Italian, half with body language and a little of English with the volunteers to know who they are, what they think about their village, what they do, how they prefer their pasta…. They have been so nice with us, bringing us coffee while we were working (because in Italy you cannot work without coffee, and not any coffee, but only the real one made with the moka!), ice creams (gelato!) after our work, making sure that everything was ok for us. They invited us to their places, they cooked for us delicious Sicilian food and we tried to cook for them our national dishes. We got the opportunity to visit a farm that was making mozzarella and other local cheeses, we did some horse riding, we went to the beach, children tried to play with us soccer…

It was nice to see that the work we did, even if it was hard sometimes, was useful for them and to see that the places that we cleaned and from which we cut the grass could be used again by the children to play, by the elderly to go to meet and sit with each other, and to realize how much we learnt from our work and our group life.

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At the end we were feeling like being part of the village and even if it was really sad for us to leave, we were happy because we got the impression that we did all together a good job and that now we have like a second home and family in Collesano and also in the other parts of the world from which were coming the volunteers (Russia, Costa Rica, Korea, France, Spain, Greece, Germany, Turkey…).

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(Photo credits: Lunaria)

INDONESIA INTERNATIONAL WORKCAMP: TEGALREJO INTERNATIONAL CAMP II

IIWC of PKBI organized an International work camp on summer season. 10 volunteers (6 Japanese, 3 Indonesian, & Spanish) joined the work camp. The work camp was located at one of the biggest Red-District Areas in Semarang Regency. This area is actually part of Jatijajar Village, Semarang Regency, Central Java. This project was initiated since 2006 when PKBI as IIWC mother organization managed NOVIB IBO project for sex workers. This place developed as a slum area in Semarang regency. There are living more than 100 families who mostly work as sex workers or food sellers. There also living some children with unregistered birth status due to unexpected pregnancy.

In 2006, we started to organize Children Program with NICE Japan. We regularly made 4 work camps with 2 work camps in each season. In 2012 we started to host local and international volunteers. Since then, we developed a lot on linking with some stakeholders in this area. Our biggest dream is to drag the children to stay away from Red-District area jobs when they get older. But then, we found difficulties to advocate the children to get a better future since many school reject them to study in their place.

Since 2014, we focus on the importance of advocating needs concerning equality of education for the children. But the biggest challenge that time was finding the key person of this issue and how we could start the action. PKBI helped us to communicate with regional education office as well as civil administrative office. The result was that we needed to collect all children’s birth data and their parent’s profiles. In 2015, our first work camp during Spring season was initiated to start up the program.  Volunteers are helping as the person in charge to collect the data on the field.

By using this campaign we enriched the method as well as materials to precising the action. We educated local families as well as reaching our aims on their administrative data. By using this way we aimed to empower their children as well as their families. “Education is a Social Escalator, Everyone needs to have equal access”, as the camp coordinator said.

(Photo credits: IIWC)

RUCHI: WATER FOR LIFE 

Bandh is a tiny unheard hilly village comprising of 30 odd households near Patta in Dharampur block of Solan district. The economy of the village is dependent on agriculture but owing to limited access to irrigation  water the people had a hand to mouth living. Despite a couple of handpums and a natural spring drinking water was supplied to people through tankers in harsh summers since 2003.

On people’s request, the local NGO RUCHI, who also faced acute water shortage, did a survey of the area and identified a small seasonal natural spring on adjoining Shili stream. A project was designed with the hypothesis that if this natural spring can be developed and recharged through appropriate measures ground water table can be raised. There was no fund available for the work and hence a workcamp with international volunteers was planned to complete the job in mid-June, 2015.

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Unfortunately, for the international volunteers this was not the appropriate time to participate. On the other hand, the work could not have been done after June because of on-setting of monsoon. Since all planning was done, RUCHI decided to work on the project on its own with a few local volunteers. One British long term volunteer joined us.  Because of his engineering background his technical help was of great help.

The efforts paid. The spring was cleaned and protected. A water reservoir at a higher elevation on the same stream was also cleaned of silt and weeds. Minor repair works on both structures were carried out during the project. Six months have gone now but the spring is still charged and provides drinking water to RUCHI as well as Bandh village. A small measure like this can always have a longer impact.

Pictures before and after:

(Photo credits: RUCHI)

 

GRENZENLOS: PARTIYCIPATION

Vision to Action is a great way of introducing important worldwide subjects to our daily work. The awareness job is not an easy one and it takes time – not only experiencing it but as well brainstorming and talking about it, completes the circle of learning. In our PartYcipation Camp in Austria we joined international young participants with local volunteers to work together for the Festival “PARTYCIPATION”. A festival full of creativity, music, workshops on a sustainable lifestyle as well as great food and drinks.

The international participants had the opportunity to meet local visitors of the festival, especially many families with children who are active in learning how to be and do sustainable actions in daily life.

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Working under many types of weather situation (especially under the burning sun) the 60-80 volunteers worked hard to bring this festival to life.

http://www.partycipation.at/

(Photo credits: Grenzenlos)

EGYESEK YOUTH ASSOCIATION: AVATARS OF NOGRAD

We hosted 26 international participants from 3 continents who worked together with Egyesek’s long-term EVSers and Hungarian volunteers for 3 weeks.

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The main activity of the project was to plan, prepare and deliver divergent, innovative and triggering English-speaking creative learning sessions for local children and youngsters in 6 locations of the surrounding villages and towns in Nógrád county. They reached directly 200 youngsters who were involved in the workshops.A group of volunteers supported a local NGO dealing with environmental and cultural protection in Hollókő which is on the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Volunteers were also involved in creating high quality media materials about the project. During the project participants prepared and realised a flashmob in the center of the county promoting mobility and international youth programs. They reached more than 500 local people. At the end of the project we organised a big open event to celebrate the achievements and successes of the project. 54 guests accepted the invitation, as an example the representatives of the Polish, Ukrainian and Turkish Embassies.

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The volunteers continued and developed further the youth work activity of Egyesek in the region. They created life-time experience for local children and youngsters who have rare or zero opportunities for meaningful summertime activities. The volunteers also contributed to the community development by supporting another local organisation which aims to preserve the environmental values and cultural traditions of the area.

The volunteers were able to gain some basic Hungarian and also gypsy language knowledge thanks for their motivation to be able to communicate with the children at their sessions.

By being presence in 4 villages and 2 towns they reached several thousands of people and showed the value and beauties of multiculturality and international mobility which is a very important message reflecting the recent happenings of today’s world.

The volunteers contributed a lot to the overall mission of Egyesek’s local youth work: to create opportunities for children and youth in order to increase the quality of their lives and their communities.

Have a look at this video to learn more about the camp.

(Photo credits: Egyesek)

 

UNAREC MadOnArt WORKCAMP: ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS, INTERCULTURALISM AND RENOVATION OF A BAKERY

The Vision 2 Action inter-regional youth workcamp season has already fully started and Virginie from UNAREC shares with us the MadOnArt workcamp experienced from 2nd of June until 16th of June of 2015 in France.

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“Madonarts, France, a splendid location in the middle of an oak forest with Mediterranean air, renovated by troubadours in search of a living and sharing place. When you enter here, you immediately feel the serenity, then you’re surprised by the beauty of the place. The red bricks buildings with large openings simply worked to iron. Large workshops filled with tools and bizarre objects commingled by huge spiders’ webs. And all around greenery, nature left to its free expression. It is in this peaceful and sublime context that the renovation site of the bakery took shape. Sedong comes from Korea, Mounir from France, Nadia from Mexico and Ceminay from Turkey. And go for two weeks of common life around sharing travel experiences, knowledge about environmental issues and possible solutions.

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And meals? Mexican tortillas, Turkish bulgur and meatballs, spicy vegetables such as korian, sausage german way! Hmmmm it was enjoyed! And the workcamp? We put on our gloves, safety shoes, caps because here the sun is very hot, and we walked up brick walls. Lime mortar, baked clay, unbaked clay, it’s called green building! It is old practices but it works very well even better than current methods! And the activities? In the afternoon we are all a little tired so we have a rest to be ready to go swimming in the Aveyron, a lazy river full of seashells! We do our shopping at the local market, Nadia buy rings in all creators she meets! And boys seek what could be the best French beers.

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We also helped Thibaud in the permaculture garden, watered and picked the melisse for evening teas. In exchange Thibaud show us the ride of senses, you have to walk in the woods with eyes closed and then with eyes closed and ears plugged! Funny how you feel differently nature ! For Ceminay, no way of missing the village feast! She goes for a dance party at the nearest town! Nadia, she became addicted to the “Tamoul”, a card game, not a day goes by without a little competition! Obviously it is always Emilie who wins! It is a great experience that we spent together, a lot of good memories, the full exchange and smiles. The construction is well advanced, everyone is proud of the work!”

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Thank you to UNAREC for the effort and energy they have put on the promotion of sustainability!

Many more sustainable workcamps are to come, check them out here and stay tuned for more photos and feedback on the activities.

(Photo credits: UNAREC)

 

VOLUNTEERS FOR PEACE: KIDS, GARDENS AND COMMUNITY

Maddy from VFP shares with us her opinion on the Kids, Gardens and Community workcamp. From 11th of July until 25th of July in USA volunteers were building the platform for a raised structure using sustainable building techniques.

“This year the Willowell Foundation hosted its 4th workcamp. Willowell is an environmental, art, and education non-profit based on 230 acres of farmland and forest. An alternative outdoor high school program, the Walden Project, has an outdoor classroom on their land during the school year.

This year there were 8 volunteers from Spain, Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, and the USA. One participant from Spain came back for her third year as a volunteer because she loves it there so much. The project is located in beautiful rural Vermont, with a lot of forest, swimming holes, and farmer’s markets and views of the Green Mountains. The Willowell community is very welcoming and they organized many dinners and leisure activities for the group. They got to interact with many people in the community by sharing meals and culture.Willowell_Cook4Climate_Group Pizza

The highlight of the 3 weeks was their Cook 4 Climate Dinner. They cooked pizza using Willowell’s outdoor wood fired pizza oven. They made homemade pizza dough and tomato sauce with local ingredients along with vegetables from the garden as pizza toppings. One participant from Korea explained that pizza was not only chosen because it was sustainable but because it was something that they could all enjoy together. It represented their teamwork and friendly group dynamics. Every volunteer prepared for this dinner very enthusiastically and had a meaningful discussion about climate change and sustainability.

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The work project was also very successful as they were able to make the platform for a raised building that overlooks the mountains where resident artists will live. It will also be used as a classroom for the alternative high school. All of the wood was sourced from within 50 miles of the land and they used sustainable building materials and techniques. Before participating in this camp many of the volunteers had never used a power tool or a hammer, and by the end, they all very confidently worked as a team to build this structure.

This was a special group because of their endless laughter and

joking around and their willingness to jump into any task and make it fun and memorable.”

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Thank you to VFP for the effort and energy they have put on the promotion of sustainability!

Many more sustainable workcamps are to come, check them out here and stay tuned for more photos and feedbacks on the activities.

(Photo credits: VFP)

 

UGANDA PIONEERS ASSOCIATION: INTERNATIONAL WORK CAMP ON PROMOTION OF COMMUNITY HEALTH

Uganda Pioneers Association Team explains to us why “International work camp on promotion of community health” was such an amazing success. From 10th to 26th of July 2015 a group of international volunteers was working with the local community in Uganda.

“This camp was under the Vision to Action Inter-regional workcamps for 2015 in line with the social inclusion as one of the pillars for sustainability as applied to voluntary service and participation by using the local resources and approaches.The camp involved the study and implementation phase activities such as workshops for the workcamp participants and the community members on various thematic issues such as HIV/AIDS, sanitation and hygiene and gender. Several activities were implemented such, community mobilization and sensitization about HIV/AIDS, Breast and cervical cancer, hepatitis .B and malaria prevention, voluntary counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS, garbage collection and proper disposal , psychosocial support through home visits for HIV infected and affected families, meetings with the community health centre management, upgrading Awiri Primary School compound.

Community clean up DSC_0571As part of inter-cultural exchange and learning, the workcampers arranged for cultural nights and social evenings. Campers presented different national identities such as food, dances, dress code and sharing about their countries amongst themselves.

Inter-cultural presentation DSC_0688The workcamp was such a great success that enriched the community and the workcampers through the non-formal learning methods. We hope that the Vision to Action project continues so that hundreds of thousands of communities can be reached by the IVS programme for sustainability. Our heartfelt appreciation goes to all the workcamp participants.”

Community sensitization DSC_0605Thank you to UPA for the effort and energy they have put on the promotion of sustainability!

(Photo credits: UPA)

 

VIVE MEXICO: VIVE11.15 SUSTAINABLE SCHOOL

For almost two weeks in August a group of volunteers was working in México for the project that aimed to raise international cooperation and community development in the region of “Valle de Morelia-Queréndaro” through the implementation of a handful of activities that promote environmental awareness and sustainable development. Vive México tells us more about their workcamp.

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“International volunteers received basic training on the following topics: home gardens, management and use of organic waste (composting, manure solids and liquids), ecological pots among other eco-techniques. They have also carried out campaigns in the communities surrounding the institution (Tarímbaro, Álvaro Obregón, Cuitzillo, among others) where ecological awareness was promoted with the tools designed by international volunteers and through activities like: creating community gardens, preparation of compost, management and waste separation, recovery and beautification of public spaces, reforestation and more. The main goal was to make an impact within the institution as part of the activities undertaken within the Workcamp,. The volunteers did some activities for the benefit of the institution including maintenance of green areas, classification and marking of the flora of the institution and rehabilitation of common areas.

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One of the most important activities achieved through this work-camp was the opportunity to get closer to the communities in need from the surroundings of Morelia city. At “Las flores” they taught some of the community families about the importance and the benefits of adopting sustainable habits like composting, reduce, reuse and recycling waste, about the maintenance and carries need for the greenhouse of the community as well as agree a scheme of work in there. At “Etucuaro” volunteers worked hand to hand with local people to rehabilitate a common area which will provide a place for the development of the town.”

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This was the completest work-camp I’ve ever lived, I met new people from all over the world, we shared experiences, we lived great moments together, we were working through two wonderful weeks, we learned about the culture and traditions from Mexico, we tried Mexican food, we saw typical customs and dances, and the most important thing is that we contributed to the development of people and communities in need, teaching them about their environment and about sustainable techniques and habits they can handle to improve their communities for a better life, at the same time we met new friends and we created friendship bonds that will last forever.

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Thank you to VIVE Mexico for the effort and energy they have put on the promotion of sustainability!

(Photo credits: VIVE Mexico)

 

CANTIERE GIOVANI: SE MENTIS – GREEN HILLS NEAR EXPO…NATURE AND CULTURE

In Italy from the 29th of June until the 13th of July eleven international volunteers were introducing local people to different cultures and traditions from all over the world not just by working together but also by cooking, playing games, talking and sharing experiences. One of the facilitators, Miloš, shares with us his opinion on this workcamp and explains to us why it was so successive!

1 (1)“Nave and Collebeato, two small villages near Brescia in the north of Italy were our home for two weeks. There were 11 of us, coming from Italy, Spain, Russia, Taiwan, and Turkey and me, Miloš, coming from Serbia. We all came with different expectations and fears, but very quickly we became like a family with all the good and the bad that it includes. Doing a workcamp is a 24h experience, it’s something incredible, you connect so fast with people you just met few hours before.

The aim of our project was intercultural exchange with locals. We achieved this for example by working with them. During the first week when we were in Nave we worked with locals on cleaning the vineyards from weeds and invasive plants. This was a bit hard only because of the scorching sun and heat but we managed to have a few talks also. Most of the locals spoke only Italian so translating was necessary, but some communicated in other ways. It was beautiful to see an older Italian explaining to a Russian girl what she needs to do without speaking the same language, and they did it! They understood each other.

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During the second week we moved to Collebeato were we worked in a park, helping the workers to cut down sick branches and trees. There we had the help of teenagers who were very curious to find out what are we doing here, and could they do the same thing in our countries. One night local students invited us for dinner. They prepared us typical Italian toasted bread with tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil. After came the pasta of course, with some secret ingredients like pine cone seeds. Next the barbecued sausages and finely the watermelon. What can I tell you, the dinner was fantastic, but I enjoyed more the talks we had and discovering that we, young people, have very similar worries and problems no matter where we came from.

The free time we had, we used to discover the region. We swam in Garda lake, which is so big that you have the impression you are at the seaside. We also climbed the hills above Verona for a magnificent view. But all of this was even more wonderful because we did it together as friends.

The final days were not easy, there were some tears, but also a warm feeling inside because we came here not knowing what to expect, maybe a bit afraid but we left with new friends, new impressions and ideas.”

4 (1)Thank you to Cantiere Giovani for the effort and energy they have put on the promotion of sustainability!

(Photo credits: Cantiere Giovani)

 

 YOUTH ACTION FOR PEACE ITALY: MAKE IT GREEN

“Make It Green” in Italy was a work camp where 12 international and a few local volunteers united their forces in one aim: to make people realise how important it is to take care of the environment and to recycle materials instead of throwing them as rubbish straight on the streets. One of the participants, from YAP Italy, tells us his opinion on the camp and its impact:

“To participate in a work camp is an opportunity to get to know people from different parts of the globe with different cultures and point of views. It is a chance to see another part of the world in a different way than as a tourist. The aim of a work camp is usually to protect or develop the natural, social or economic resources in an area with help of international and local volunteers. The camp “Make It Green II” was organized for the second time by ACARBIO (Associazione Costiera Amalfitana Riserva Biosfera), the local municipality of Tramonti and YAP Italy.

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12 participants worked together with local Italian volunteers.The main aim was to promote a more sustainable way of handling the litter problem in the community at the same time as raising awareness of the residents to stop throwing garbage in the nature. During this camp 12 international volunteers from Spain, Russia, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Sweden, Belgium, Serbia and Greece were working together with local volunteers to clean areas of Tramonti, especially along the roads. This cleaning was not only performed to make the area cleaner, it was also done in order to send a message to the local inhabitants that we should care more about our environment.

It was surprising how much garbage we found along the roads. Each day we collected around 18 big garbage bags with mixed waste and the same amount of garbage bags for plastic and aluminium, regarding the fact that we were only cleaning about 4 hours per day, it is way too much waste.

This work camp was promoting public awareness towards a more sustainable life style and more ecological way of living. There are too many materials that are just dumped in the nature when could have been recycled. Using recycled materials instead of creating new, saves a lot of energy. So instead of thinking about used products as garbage we should try to figure out how we could use it as a resource.

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One part of the work camp was devoted to recycling or rather ‘upcycling’. It means that something new is built out of old. We worked together with Girasole, which is a centre for disabled people. I is situated in Tramonti.  We learned there how to build for example candlesticks, lamps, vases and other decorations out of old plastic bottles, plastic bags, glass bottles or other things that in other cases would have been considered as garbage. Those decorations were used during a party we organised together with Girasole – a party where we ate, talked and sang together.

When we were working along the streets, many cars were stopping by to ask us what we were doing and why.This was exactly what we wanted people to do – to wonder why are people from different countries coming to their region and clean their streets. There are, as I see it, two answers: first, we have to take care of the earth altogether, we should work together and not against each other if we want to have a bright future. Second, the effort of the volunteers will hopefully send a message to the locals co they could understand that this high rate of littering is not normal and we have to stop it. If it is necessary that volunteers from far away, even from the other side of the globe, come and clean the streets of Tramonti there must be way to much rubbish.There were also a lot of people who already knew what we were doing and they were very thankful. We could really see that the residents appreciated our work. They were also very friendly and generous to us.”

Thank you to YAP Italy for the effort and energy they have put on the promotion of sustainability!

(Photo credits: YAP Italy)

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