Did you accidentally strand on our website and do you are now curious what volunteers/trainees have the possibility to do here?
Or are you thinking about definitely spending your gap year in Estonia – while most people don’t even know, where this country is situated?
In either case you are on the right track when searching for information here.
As a volunteer/trainee you are facing challenges, experiences, the possibility to try out different works and certainly a lot of fun.
Pahkla Camphilli Küla is a small village including about twenty people with disabilities, 20 to 63 years old, five co-workers (as well as five additional ones, who come to work here from outside at least twice a week) and, of course, several volunteers living in four of the five living houses. Because of the small amount of people it is possible – but also needed – to be in close contact with everyone.
The so-called villagers in our community are very independent and open-minded so it isn’t too difficult to settle in. Every year anew they are happy to welcome interesting people and add them to their long list of acquaintances.
As a result of being only few people there is always a lot of work to be done, not just on the whole but for every single person. Thus, help is always welcome and always wanted. Now the question as to what we actually do here pops up. The answer can be given easily: Mainly work.
Work is divided into three different groups:
1. Summer work: to this part belong primarily work on the fields and in the garden, which includes the hay- and straw-making, seeding, weeding and harvesting. To the latter naturally more work adds up: making jam, squeezing out juice and pickling. In summer you are mostly engaged in outside-work.
2. Winter work: in this time of the year a majority of people can be found in our workshops where we produce candles, as well as carpets, socks, bags and whatever else can be woven, knitted and crocheted. In both workshops you can become active, predominantly in guidance and supervision. Outside a huge amount of firewood has to be cut and, since the cows cannot stay on the field during winter, in the cowshed, too, a lot of work has to be done.
3. All-season work: Moreover, as you can well imagine, the households have to be done throughout the year. Who would like to live in a dirty house or come home, exhausted from working, and have nothing to eat? Cooking and cleaning is also one part of volunteers’ work. Besides that, cows have to milked and the milk can then be used to produce yoghurt, quark, gouda-cheese and herbal cheese. On top of this we deliver milk products to our clients several times a week.
Don’t worry if that all sounds a little bit strange at the moment: In your first weeks here you will be taught a fair bit of things, which will soon become second nature to you. The villagers are always ready to show and explain everything plus help you everywhere. In general you are going to work with one of the villagers, which will make time pass in a flash because of their fooleries and jokes.
But not everything revolves around work, even though one starts to think that way after some time. Leisure time, of course, is an important matter, too.
Every week you’ve got one day off. In twelve months you will have the right to go on holiday for approximately four weeks. There is a lot do see in this region of Europe: Estonia, of course, with its beautiful landscape and nature, the capital city Tallinn being only in a 30 km distance from our camphill; interesting countries and cities such as Finland/Helsinki, Latvia/Riga, Sweden/Stockholm and Russia/Moscow + St. Petersburg can be reached by ferry, bus or train in not more than a few hours. As you don’t have to pay for accommodation and food plus you receive a monthly pocket money, you won’t have any problems in financing your trips.
In our community itself leisure time, apart from a lengthy break after lunch, is limited to the evenings. On one evening the volunteers/trainees organise a game’s evening, which every villager can attend if he wants to. You can be quite creative here and do whatever you’d like: sports, games, dance, handicrafts… And if you don’t have any clue what to do, the villagers themselves will know what they want. In winter on another evening in the week you are going to sing together with the villagers. If you like playing an instrument you are welcome to accompany the singing.
Whatever else can happen is up to you. If you take the initiative, the villagers are happy to join events such as disco, film’s evening, basketball tournaments, swimming, excursions to concerts or the zoo. Moreover you can help organise feasts like Easter, Christmas (nativity play inclusive), the harvest festival or our annual spring festival.
One question, all volunteers are asked by family members and friends regards the language spoken here. It is Estonian, a somewhat strange language with loads of loanwords from German and Swedish. The time spent with our villagers, be it work, be it cultural events, will surely teach you everything you need to know for communication in the community. Half a year you are expected to attend Estonian classes. Who would like to impress people here can, of course, already start learning at home. And when sometimes communication fails to work: Why are we in possession of hands and feet?
In winter a course in social therapy and biologic-dynamic farming takes places and rounds out the cultural supply.
What you need to know and to consider is the camphill’s remote location. The next supermarket and bar are situated in the next small town, Kohila, ten kilometres from our place. It takes about three quarters of an hour to get to Tallinn by train (from Kohila) as well as by car. As a volunteer* you have the possibility to use one of the village’s cars, so that everything is within reach. For everyone who considers a longer stay it is a clear advantage to own a driver’s licence.
The benefits of living in the countryside you will most probably get to know and come to appreciate yourself. In summer you can leave the window wide open and your sleep won’t be disturbed by loud music, screaming or noise from cars but you will be lullabied by birds and crickets. In the cold and frosty winter you can witness an overwhelming starlit sky and if you are a true lover of sunrises and sunsets, you will get your money’s worth here in Estonia, where you can look as far as the horizon almost everywhere you are.
Estonia is a pretty small country with a population of just 1.3 million citizens which can be quite claustrophobic sometimes. On the other hand, the cute small towns with wonderfully preserved historic city centres and cosy houses made from wood, together with all the festivals in a hot summer including never darkening nights in June is surely a reason to fall in love with this country.
In the end, we would like to tell you from the bottom of our hearts: Please, come to us because we really need your help. We would be deeply pleased to welcome you here, if you decide to join us and see what we are working at.
*As we use the word “volunteer” it usually means those who do a year-long (or longer) volunteering service here