10 young people from Italy, Croatia and Hungary gathered for our group volunteering experience for 3 weeks, late July and August 2022.
Volunteers were involved in various activities, including:
- daily kitchen service (preparing breakfast, lunch, dinner, dressing the table, doing the dishes, cleaning up)
- construction of a Wallipini (a winter garden), including digging a foundation, soil work, constructing a structure
- building a stone retaining wall, including digging a foundation, soil work, buildin a stone wall
- adobe works (mixing adobe out of mud and straw, plastering the wall, smoothing the surface)
- gardening (mulching, weeding, watering)
- transfer of know-how (solar panel system, rainwater usage, walipi, compost toilet)
Our work experiences:
- As it was super hot during the days, we started the days early and had a longer siesta, and continued working in the afternoon, when the sun wasn’t that hot anymore.
- Weekends were free, where volunteers could go hiking, bathing in the Balaton lake and enjoy they stay on the hill.
- There was a lack of physical stamina, so we had to rearrange the construction processes, and the hard works were done by the hosts (pick axing, lifting heavy stones), leaving the lighter works to the volunteers (shoveling, wedging of the stones)
- Lack of knowledge on how to use tools and lack of construction experience. The hosts were explaining in detail the safe usage of the tools, the correct posture and the tricks of efficient work.
- In case of an introvert/lonely participant, we were trying to providem them with tasks that can be done alone/in silence
- Decrease in motivation - during morning circle we always discussed difficulties, hardships of the previous day, and encouraged the team to choose among the tasks, that they could work on on their own pace.
- It was a surprisingly cooperative, friendly and attentive team.
- Despite the physical difficulties, the team proved to be resilient.
- They taught me a lot about how to make a work process enjoyable and loving/careful towards each other.
- Although such a hard physical job was not effective in terms of progress, the experiences and lessons learned are still positive.
- In the future, heavy physical work should be replaced by lighter tasks, perhaps remedied by more careful preparation (e.g. digging a hole with an earth-moving machine).