Volunteer Review – Anouk Kraakman

You know that feeling that something isn’t right, but you cannot really figure out what is? I’m quite familiar with that feeling I have to admit. 😉 It’s not always present on the foreground, not at all actually. Often times I even completely forget about it, yet it never stays away for too long. This feeling is two-sides, partly it stems from some unresolved personal issues and I’m quite focused on doing my inner spiritual/personal development work to get to know these parts of me. Another part of this feeling is more about not being able to find my place in current society, maybe even not fully wanting to find my place. I have lived a city lifestyle for quite some time now and lately I cannot really get the same satisfaction out of it as I used to before. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy many comforts that city life has to offer, but the fast-paced lifestyle just doesn’t fully cut it for me anymore. I feel a sense of disconnection to life, to myself and to what not. 😉 So what to do next? I have to figure out what lifestyle does fit me!

Searching the web only helped me so much; I realized I have to get down and dirty in this figuring out thing. Long story short; this resulted in me boarding a plane from my once so beloved Amsterdam to Lisbon, Portugal. The final destination is Pául, a small town in rural Portugal. I am going to volunteer at a project called Ananda Kalyani. Ananda Kalyani is a development project run by an international team. Its goal is to develop a model of sustainable living in response to modern social, economic and environmental challenges.

The Ananda Kalyani project was born from the dream of a group of people who aimed to create a better world together. The focus areas are deep-ecology, personal and spiritual development, art, all-round social service and social activism. They found the perfect valley (and it’s so pretty!!) for the development of a vibrant settlement, a service-hub and research-center where individuals can fully realize their inner potential, in harmony with each other, nature and all.

I arrived October 1st , just a few days before one of their events started: The Spiritual Warrior Camp (SWC). The SWC is a 4 day event and it is a beautiful mix of meditation, contemplation, yoga , obstacle run like challenges (jumping out of a high tree, slack lining over the river, climbing a high, almost vertical wall, etc) and other pretty tough physical and mental challenges. One of the motto’s of the SWC that I loved was: Face your fears and your mind will change! Me and a couple of other volunteers helped with the last preparations for the event and many friends of the project arrived to help out, so there was a bunch of happy open minded people together, all geared towards one goal: making this event rock! It was the perfect time to arrive for me because of the good-spirited atmosphere, it made me feel part of the group quite quickly.

Once the event was over life at the farm was quite different, we were left with only around 12 people and my work changed to mainly working on the land (picking berries, vegetables, processing tomatoes, cutting wood, planting things etc). I enjoyed a lot to spend so much time outside and being physical.

The Ananda Kalyani project in it’s current stage has no private houses yet. In the summer time people either camp or sleep in the big communal building, but when the nights get too cold they move to the nearby village of Paul where they rent 2 houses, one of them named ‘Casa Ananda’, this is the main house where everyone comes together for meals, meetings, movie nights etc.

After 2 weeks volunteering we moved to Casa Ananda because the nights got really cold. Living in a house with a group of people is quite different from living on the land where there is so much space. It’s still beautiful but a lot more challenging, that’s for sure and very good for personal development. 😉 The house is about 4,5 km away from the land and each morning we either drive or bike to the land.

 

With the winter coming the daily work has changed a bit, for example finding and cutting wood for the fireplace to heat the house. I learned to operate a chainsaw and little did I know how satisfying that is, I loved it. 😉  Also with the change of weather and the fact that I decided to stay a while longer, I’m getting more into office work; I’m going to shine my light on the topic of fundraising, very interesting and I’m looking forward to get familiar with this. Last but not least, I had my first real massage gig here in Portugal (I was a massage therapist back home)!

 

So far about the work here at the Ananda Kalyani project. It’s time to address another major thing that happens here. As I mentioned before, one of the focus areas of this project is personal and spiritual development. The hope is to make a contribution in the shift from a more mind based ‘more more’ approach to life, to a more balanced and sustainable heart/mind based approach to life, Individual mental changes are highly valued as a basis for larger societal changes (change starts with one person). Within the team, including all the volunteers coming and going, they promote an environment open to personal development. Think of; daily meditation, sharing meetings, constructive feedback, discussing/contemplating more philosophical topics, giving space to individual expression etc. It’s beautiful to see how the focus of this part of the work is so much bigger than just this project, they are really planting seeds in every volunteer that joins them, for whatever period of time. Some love it, some a bit less, but it always makes people think and reflect upon themselves and their life.

As for myself; Ananda Kalyani and your gorgeous people, what a katalyst you are! I participate in meditation almost every day, this together with the 180 degrees change of life and living and working together with a group of people get me out of my comfort zone so much. It’s really not just fun, zen and beauty here (I realize I may have made it sound a bit like that 😉 ), but this is where the growth happens, right?? 😉 It makes me see some of my beliefs and patterns and I’m trying to let go of the less functional ones.

So what about this feeling I described before that something isn’t right? Is it gone? And did I figure out what my lifestyle is? Well… ehm, the answers are no and no, at least not yet. Being here does help me put life in another perspective and it shows me that there are different ways of living together and it helps me to find that sense of connection again and maybe the answers to those questions will follow with time. 🙂

 

Obrigada Ananda Kalyani 🙂

 

Namaskar

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F.A.Q

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  • When we need volunteers?
    All year round.
  • Do we require a minimum duration?
    Yes, we require a minimum of 1 Month
  • Is the project really 100% vegetarian?
    Yes
  • Can I bring my non-vegetarian food and eat by myself?
    You can of course hang out at a local restaurant or have your meat for a picnic, but please don’t eat non-vegetarian food, alcohol or take drugs inside the project.

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Ananda Valley Internships

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6 and 12 months positions, in the areas of: 

  1. agriculture & natural construction
  2. ecology, sustainability & permaculture

Erasmus+ Youth Exchanges

Youth exchanges allow groups of young people from different countries to meet, live together and work on shared projects for short periods.

Youth exchanges take place outside the school environment. On a youth exchange, you can expect to participate in activities such as workshops, exercises, debates, role-plays, outdoor activities and more.

Participants’ learning experiences are recognised through a Youthpass.

This year we will have 3 Youth exchanges.

  1. 28 June – 19 July “Making Ananda Festival of Bliss”
  2. 4-13 September “Back2Nature”
  3. 27 Sep – 6 Oct “Footprints 2.0”

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Erasmus+ volunteers projects

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EVS (European Voluntary Service) & ESC (European Solidarity Corps) programs:

  • candidates must be between the ages of 17 and 30; candidates between 25 and 30 years will get priority;
  • financial support: all essential costs related to your volunteering project; you will be provided with insuranceaccommodation, board and any local transport that you may need, and a small amount of ‘pocket money‘;
  • EVS volunteering projects in Ananda Kalyani are usually long term but we are open for short term projects as well;
  • you volunteer on an unpaid and full-time basis;
  • what you have achieved and learned through volunteering is certified via the Youthpass recognition tool.

Active Projects:

If you are interested to volunteer in Ananda Kalyani please contact us. We will need the contacts of your sending organization so that together we will be able to create the project tailored specifically for you and apply with it. The results about the approval of the project will be accordingly to the deadline (October, February, May).

Ended Projects:

  • 2017 – ORGANIC EPIC 2 – ANANDA MARGA Portugal
    • 3 volunteers from all over Europe.
  • 2017 – ORGANIC EPIC – AMURT Portugal
    • 3 volunteers from all over Europe.
  • 2016 – EVS Treasure Hunt – AMURT Portugal
    • 3 volunteers from Italy: Valeria, Francesca and Andrea!

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Service

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Volunteer service is based on at least 5 hours of work per day with 2 days off on the weekend. 

With 5 hours a day, 5 days a week focused on your working tasks you have ample opportunity to learn about your personal relationship to work, develop a variety of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills, and about how to be present with what it is to be in service.

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Volunteers' Guidelines

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We have developed a set of  Guidelines stating how we aspire to live and work as a community.

We are a 100% drug and alcohol free environment. If you are found under the influence of drugs or alcohol, we will ask you to leave immediately.

The Schedule and Guidelines will be sent to you when you contact us. After reading and agreeing with them we forward with video call, so we can “meet” each other.

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What We Need

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We are looking for volunteers who are open to live with people from different cultures and backgrounds and who are interested to share in and learn from the whole process, sunny days and rainy days.

Most of the work is general maintenance of the farm and organising events. You will be involved in some of the following activities: helping with the development and maintenance of the forests; planting in the organic garden; collecting wood and fruits / wild berries. You will learn how to prune and take care of many different trees and berry bushes, composting, mulching, caring for and transplanting seedlings, how trickle drip irrigation systems work, weeding and all other aspects of maintaining and developing an organic farm. You may like to help with selling the food grown at our market stall, visit other eco-villages and projects nearby.

If you are interested or have experience and knowledge you can take part in more specialised opportunities like: informatics ( website, help in the automation of greenhouse, electrical system in AK, small apps to assist in recording sales, batch number creation, other tasks that can be automated), communication/marketing and events management.

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What We Offer

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The dynamic volunteer team at Ananda Valley is a place where you can dive into an international, community experience rich in learning and personal development. Our aim is to provide space and opportunity to express yourself and learn how to develop your full potential, supporting a more sustainable way of living, socially, culturally, economically and ecologically.

The project need people passionate about nature, willing to work with joy and happiness, not scared by people who meditate, are vegetarian or are singing mantra and doing Yoga asanas in the early morning. We are growing, learning and we need people who work with love, not afraid of the weather and are open to make friends from all around the world!

As a volunteer you are here not only to serve your own personal development, but also the development of this beautiful project. Service to the project means participating in all working activities, some boring, some fun, giving the gift of warm and joyful environment. 

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Food Forest Project

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Using a permaculture, biodynamic, natural agriculture insights, and primarily what nature is telling plus a pinch of intuition, we will create step-by-step a self-sufficient forest made of a symbiotic community of mostly perennial edible plants and vegetables. Usually forest gardening is seen as a low-maintenance sustainable plant-based food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables. It is an ancient art and deep science of combining plants in woodland-like patterns, forging mutually beneficial relationships, creating a garden community that is more than the sum of its parts.The first food forest is being developed in an area of 1.500 m2, to begin testing and experimenting several techniques, and requires a small economic support to buy plants and few tools to start the forest. Three 1.000 liters tank will be placed in one corner of the forest, to provide more water in the first 3 years of the project, and for extremely dry years during the summer months.

Want to know more? Come and visit us on one of our open days!  

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Vegetable and Herbs Project

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Our second agricultural project is envisioned to provide us with economical sustainability, through a source of fresh and organic fruits and vegetables. We are now at Fundão Market selling our produce on Monday and Saturday mornings in the summer season. Come and visit us! We are also going to plant and distribute organically-grown medicinal and aromatic herbs. Using permaculture techniques, we are planning to have tincture herbs and and produce essential oils. A diverse and plentiful crop!

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Cherries and Berries Project

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Already harvesting blackberries and raspberries in season 2016 and now waiting for cherries first harvest in 2017 season. Our first big agricultural project consisted in planting and looking after more than 2150 berry bushes and cherry trees. This region is known for its delicious cherries, so we planted 550 of these local trees in over 1.5 hectares. Spread across half a hectare we planted berries and they will be cared for using the latest techniques such as biodynamic agriculture and permaculture. Using special “teas” made of specific plants we are making our herbal friends very happy! This project will guarantee financial security and stability through direct sale of produce. 

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Learning Centre

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We are excited about a new project which is now in its initiation phase: a Learning Center focusing on Regeneration and Sustainability.

Learning Centre

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Estrela Sustentavel

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Is an ICT (information and communication technology) company that functions to create software for the future. Always with an eye set to promote sustainability and social development, it aims to give a good financial basis for the creation of the Master Unit as well as setting a standard of sustainability for it. As the work is developed, new and interesting technologies are discovered and created which inspire the team even further in the endeavour to develop Ananda Kalyani. 

http://www.estrelasustentavel.pt/

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Events & Ananda Festival of Bliss

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Our beautiful green valley is the perfect spot to organize events. We’d love to invite you to enjoy life with us and join us in one (or more) of our events. You can dance and sing your heart out at the annual Ananda Festival of Blissyou can face your fears and be a hero at the Spiritual Warrior Camp or you can get back in touch with yourself at our Spring Retreat.

A bit of special attention goes out to our Ananda Festival of Bliss, because this is the time a year when everything we stand for comes together! Ananda Festival of Bliss is a festival for people who believe they can make the world a better place. It’s an adventure of art and nature, a heaven for activist and dreamers, for young people, families, lovers of ecology and warriors of peace and spirituality! Ananda Festival of Bliss will inspire for individual changes to happen and this will serve as the base for a larger societal change that is so necessary in our world.

All our events are drug, smoke and alcohol free, promoting a healthy & vegetarian lifestyle.

Please visit our events page for more detailed information on events and the festival.