So what do ESC volunteers actually learn while staying in the Sustainable Living Lab for 10 months? And you can trust us that 10 months is a lot of time that can really transform someone’s life! Ananda Gaorii is not just a regular organization that is focused on solidarity, sustainability and spirituality. It’s a community, environment, living organism where volunteers have a chance to experience an alternative way of living. It’s an organic blend of community, spirituality, permaculture, events, vegetarian cooking, bees and many more amazing ingredients!
Here we want to give you an idea of what volunteers are learning in Ananda Gaorii and which results the project has reached with their graceful assistance.
One of the main achievements (there are so many though!) has been an established community of volunteers who have learned how to live and work together harmoniously. Many former ESC volunteers fell in love with this place and decided to stay longer after their official ESC experience. Now they play key roles such as leading a certain area of the project (garden, media, recruitment, etc.) and guiding new volunteers. Each time a new group of ESC volunteers arrives it’s always a new learning cycle. And improving the life of the community is ongoing work that requires the participation of everyone. Since last year we’ve been focusing a lot on our communication, how to make it direct yet non-violent, how to express ourselves authentically and honestly and give the same kind of listening to the other. Communication that is sustainable and non-violent is a huge community-building skill that has become one of the main learnings here.
Inner work is a big part of Ananda Gaorii. Volunteers who come here have a focus on spirituality therefore meditation and chanting twice a day and regular yoga classes stimulate the self-inquiry of volunteers. You can’t estimate the depth of this work with CV or youth pass but the results of this process go far beyond that. Inner peace, connection with something bigger than yourself, self-love and compassion are the skills that manifest in all areas of life. ESC volunteers are invited to know themselves on a deeper level which is a big gift that this place offers. Some of ESC volunteers after their volunteering period even decided to pursue a spiritual path and dedicate their life to service.
There is a unique opportunity to become a certified yoga instructor in Ananda Gaorii. Yoga Teacher Training is offered to each generation of ESC volunteers where they are guided by the experienced yoga instructor (who is also a former ESC). After the successful completion of the training, participants get a certificate and are registered in the biggest yoga teacher database. For those who are persistent enough it becomes a doorway towards a successful career as a yoga instructor.
Growing your own food and learning about the plants is another useful and practical learning that volunteers gain in the Sustainable Living Lab. One of the project’s goals is to become fully self-sustainable so many forces are directed towards that. Volunteers get hands-on experience of learning permaculture by actually doing it. They also learn how to make their own natural cosmetics, dry herbs, make nutritious meals, preserve food and use wild plants. After this rich experience volunteers walk away with confidence and knowledge to kick start their own permaculture garden. Some of the volunteers go even further and create their own community after spending enough time here and learning all that is needed.
Now we have an established bee-keeping team that is taking care of 7 beehives. Thanks to the local bee-keeping teacher that visits the project once a week, volunteers get practical experience and learn how to take care of little creatures which produce the golden nectar. And other Ananda Gaorii volunteers are super lucky to enjoy the results of their work 🙂
If you are following our Facebook page you probably know that there are many events happening in Ananda Gaorii regularly. Volunteers play a key role in hosing them. There is always an opportunity to offer a workshop or an activity as well as gain experience in event management and promotion. Initiative, creativity and cooperation are always welcomed and supported here. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to meet locals and introduce them to the place.
Apart from retreats and workshops, we have other events such as foodsharing when we give away extra food and raise the topic of food waste. Volunteers also visit other projects in the areas of sustainability and permaculture. This year has been especially full of weekend excursions to similar projects and giving a hand to other sustainable farms.
You can see that the learnings which happen in Ananda Gaori are countless. In the next posts we will introduce you to some of Ananda Gaorii volunteers and their direct experience of being here, their discoveries, challenges, moments of joy and darkness (everyone is going through their growing pains).
It’s all for now and see you on another page:)
Photos by Ago L. Dimasi @alok_ae