Oasis Team Volunteering

Usually in August, most of the people go on holidays to the sea or the mountains; instead, we chose to spend our time in a different way.

From 7-25 August we had the opportunity to participate in a three-week group volunteering event co-organised by Szatyor Association, focusing on the practical implementation of permaculture within the Oasis Project, in a small village near the Balaton Lake called Lengyeltoti. As can be noticed from past articles, the project and the place are not new, but familiar to some of our old colleagues who came to help in the spring season. In contrast, these three weeks represented the first longer experience for a short-term group volunteering, with the participation of other European countries and Hungarian volunteers.

Thanks to the help of the facilitators and experts, we came in contact with the different spheres of permaculture from the beginning. Our main goal was to create a large mandala garden and the masonry of a chicken coop with a terrace in three weeks. 

During the first week, the program focused on collecting materials to create the bases of the two structures. Through the opening circle in the glass pavilion, we had the opportunity to divide into groups and decide which task to participate in, according to our preferences and needs. Activities included collecting hazelnut and bamboo sticks from the forest, cleaning the leaves of hazelnuts, installing acacia pallis for fencing, willow, hazelnut and bamboo weaving fence but also selecting, cleaning and stacking bricks. In addition to these environmental activities, there were also community tasks related to cooking and cleaning the common areas. Every afternoon we could shift between the different groups, so at the end of the week everyone had the chance to try new activities.

Teamwork and strong determination created a nice cooperative synergy in the group.

Hard physical work and the capacity to challenge oneself, to adapt in a different context from our comfort zone, have obtained concrete results in a short time. 

In the following week, we advanced with the work, continuing to follow an eco-architectural approach, experimenting with the technique of filtering, to create the material for the wall of the chicken coop, to dig the foundations and to collect wood for the hugel of the garden. 

Observing with our own eyes the various steps in the realization of the works, enhancing natural resources, allowed us to become more conscious of the importance of taking care of nature through regenerative land management. During our free time, we had the opportunity to participate in some activities organized by the facilitators, such as the women and mother circle and morning yoga, as moments of self-reflection and reconnection between body and soul. 

Arriving at the last week, we focused on framing with different weaving techniques, with bamboo/hazelnut sticks and on brick wall making, through the funny experience to pound mud, mix adobe and plaster the wall. In addition, we spent time planting, creating compost and finally completed our organic garden, proud of the work done!

It was an intense three weeks, where we were able to learn, reflect and practice the permaculture model as an ethical-philosophical approach to daily life. The connection with nature, the desire to rebalance the environment, learning to live in a community and sharing emotions and thoughts with different people, were concrete examples that this experience gave me. Of course, there were also moments of fun and entertainment among us , such as the opportunity to participate in a music event during the last weekend of the camp. I'm glad to have enjoyed this project. An August that I will never forget!  

- Noemi

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