Deirdre Gavin writes about her time volunteering in the Czech Republic.
On the 29th of September last I trekked through a forest near a tiny town called Chotěboř in the Czech Republic to embark on what was to be an intense, inspiring and fun-filled week. The training course was for return volunteers from the Global South to dissect and explore our experiences in an open, honest and non-judgmental space. This was followed by exploring how we can apply our learning from our experiences to our lives and communities to work towards contributing to a more just, equal and sustainable world.
I decided to attend this course as I wanted to further explore my volunteering experience and I felt this would be a safe space to do so. I also continuously feel a constant struggle between wanting to take informed action and not knowing how to go about it. I knew this course would address this head on. We were provided with really helpful management tools and advice in bucket loads as to how to go about setting up or contributing to an action project.
As a result of the course I have built upon a blog I wrote (http://www.developmentperspectives.ie/coffee-cups-and-conscious-decisions/ ) which was basically a social experiment using a reusable coffee cup for 30 days.
Throughout the course I explored goals I wanted to achieve:
1. To create awareness that the majority of coffee cups are non-recyclable and end up in landfill (due to a thin layer of plastic surrounding the cup to stop it getting soggy).
2. To increase usage of reusable cups in Dublin and in general.
After exploring this issue and these goals on the course, I returned to Dublin and joined an active group to which I am contributing. I initially wanted to create a small campaign on my own, but upon realizing there was already a working group tackling the same goals, I thought it a better idea to join them. I am now a member of the ‘Conscious cup campaign’ consisting of over 40 members. We are in the early stages of creating a campaign focusing on these two goals. Be on the look out for this campaign in the near future as it will hopefully be impactful on the general publics coffee cup habits!!
The week also allowed for the group to network and share an assortment of ideas, campaigns, interesting books and documentaries and opportunities available. I gained not only many like-minded friends, but also a renewed sense of drive for an issue that has always bugged me. I have now turned a motivation into real plans to make tangible differences to communities. Since the trip we have set up various platforms to keep connected and to continuously support others action projects. I would like to thank Comhlamh and the other partners involved for giving me the opportunity to attend and for being part of an inspiring week.