23 October 2019

Shared living, Co-working and Purposeful Travelling - an EVS experience

Ana-Maria spent some wonderful weeks in an EVS, working with Green Association, a Bulgarian NGO that promotes non-standard solutions for environmental protection.

The decision to pursue a short-term voluntary service (EVS) in Bulgaria was a calculated one. It came to me one cold day of winter, daydreaming of a summer adventure to celebrate my future graduation. It wasn’t sure at that time that I will succeed to finish my degree but planning my summer ahead I thought it would give me an additional reason to stay focused. One of my main interests is community building, rural development and social cohesion therefore the choice to join Green Association.

Bulgaria was not necessarily the first on my list of countries to explore, only because, myself being from Romania it occurred to me that we share many similarities in terms of culture, landscape and history. Anyhow, the decision to do my EVS there was strongly influenced by the profile of Green Association and their projects. In few words, GA has a very flexible mission and vision mostly driven
by principles of social and environmental well-being. The mission of GA is to promote solidarity and sustainability by bringing together international volunteers, dreamers and visionaries to work on community living practices in small settlements.

In practice, the GVS (Green Voluntary Service) was revolving around one of GA’s main project: Green Summit. As part of GS, the Greenies (us) were travelling here and there, from project to project ready to give a helping hand to anyone in need. Just to give a few examples, in our first two weeks we, the Greenies guided closely by the locals build from scratch an alternative lifestyle festival in the Rhodope Mountains (Beglika). During the two weeks we built, decorated and animated the whole area. Personally, I was taking care of the volunteers’ kitchen, making sure there is enough fuel for everyone to succeed. The festival was a resounding success. I even had a slot at the Green Stage,
holding a discussion about the ‘Impact of Angyculture’ related to the downsides of industrial agriculture and the alternatives. Another project that will remain in my heart was the Sustainable Camp hosted by the Public Environmental Centre for Sustainable Development in Ezeretz, by the Black Sea. During the 3 days that we spent there, we put all our energy into building with ecological materials and screening the village to identify its most valuable people and heritage.

The whole EVS experience was beyond any expectations. Not only that I experienced life to the fullest with least of modern-day comfort, but I also established genuine connection with nature and human souls. I won’t say the whole experience was milk and honey, living without electricity and running water is not ideal. However, one thing I observed about me is that I was always content with everything, especially with the people I met and the level of creative energy surrounding us. These two months were a continuous experiment of shared living and working while being on the road.