Nuestra experiencia en Talamanca del Jarama

  1. Introduction

As it was described in the info sheet we were given, the project was supposed to be based on renovating parts of the old town which have fallen into deterioration. In the same way, we were supposed to be building a wooden bridge and the access to it by constructing some wooden ladders with handrails.

As we were explained the project was born to encourage the young people of the area to become active citizens in their town and to try to avoid them leaving to go to bigger cities, as it is pretty usual in the area; also it was important to promote the idea of volunteering and work camps, and in order to achieve this, we also were supposed to organize a happening for locals on the last day.

The participants list was based of seven girls of different nationalities; they were from China, France, Great Britain, Italy and Turkey. The majority of the participants chose the camp due to the closeness of it to Madrid. The ages of the participants ranged from 18 (the youngest one) up to 21 (the oldest participant) by what a very friendly and close atmosphere was created.

The leader’s names were Almut Prinz (Germany) and Leire Garate (Spain).

  1. Preparation for the work camp

The camp leaders got one weekend of training in order to be prepared to carry out the camp. Apart from that, one of the camp leaders was doing an EVS, so she was more impregnated with the philosophy of De Amiticia and international volunteers. They received the camp leader starter pack and some games to break the ice between the participants. They got acquainted with the importance of living more sustainably and taking care of the environment and also with the impact that our diet can have on it.

In order to get the work camp prepared the leaders went to the town beforehand. They made the shopping and prepared the space in which the team would be sleeping so that it was ready for use. Also, they contacted with people and visited the work place and other point of interest (for the team) such as the city hall or the public library.

  1. Running the work camp

Infrastructure

The team ́s accommodation was in an old culture centre beside the local tennis court and there were some individual mattresses to sleep. The team was pretty happy with the location. It was clean, simple and quiet. Breakfast was made by the team but for the lunch there was some catering for the lunch and a sandwich for dinner at the local bar. In order to cooking breakfast there were some kind of problems at first, due to there was not the material needed, but finally the team managed without them. In terms of transport, the town hall workers took and the team every day to the work place, so the team was delighted. For the shopping, as we would only made it for breakfast and the snack, usually the team would buy it in the shop in front of the culture centre (the invoices were passed to the town hall).

‘Internal’ organisation

As already mentioned, during the week the team was only cooking for breakfast. Normally, some of the participants would prepare the fruits for breakfast while the others would prepare different drinks (tea, coffee…) and lay the table. The dishes were cleaned by turns, so we all would cleaned them. When it comes to the cleaning of the accommodation, there was a cleaning women, so that we did not have to worry about that.

We did not have a budget, therefore our way of organizing ourselves was the next: there was a little shop in front of the culture centre that had more or less everything that we needed. We used to make the shopping there and the cashiers would send the invoices to the town hall so that we did not have to pay it.

Practical work

As mentioned in the beginning, the camp leaders arrived in Talamanca with an idea of what the work would be, in this case, the mentioned in the info sheet. As soon as we arrived and met the local hosts, they told us that the plans had been changed and that we would not be constructing the bridge due to they decided that it would be done by a construction company. Instead, apart from the access to the bridge we would also put some benches and rubbish bins in the road that takes from the town to the bridge.

The first days we started working in the access to the bridge. The town hall workers directed our work explaining what we had to do and how. The problem was that the town hall had some works to do (apart from the work camp), and so the workers that were with us had to go to do some other works. So it was pretty usual to maybe work one or two hours and then just stay there waiting for the workers as we did not have work to do or the tools that were needed. After talking with the local host, we were given some other works, so that the participants would get satisfied and not bored. And that is how the team cleaned the river, the park and did some other jobs.

For the ending of the two weeks, we cleaned and construct the access to the bridge, cleaned the river and the park (twice) that was in front of the culture centre of the town and pulled up the weeds and plants and cleaned the garden so that could be planted again. At the end, we did not construct the bridge neither the benches nor the bins. Due to the lack of work, we were offered to clean the dogs park, but we talked with our organization and decided that we were not going to do that because (like some other works we did) it did not have anything to see with the work they advertised.

So, we could say that although the team had a good time the work fell short to the team’s expectations.

Regarding to the work safety, in order to realize the work, the team had some gloves and there was no accident. The participants were motivated to work but due to the bad organization according to the days spent with little construction work and more likely “cleaning” work the motivation was lost.

The non-material part

Social/cultural activities:

As we were in a little town, there was not big thing to do, but we tried to enjoy the maximum. The project organizers prepare for the participants some pool entrances, so that we could go as much as we would like. Also, we were invited to participate in a basket workshop and in an astrology talk and we also went to a cinema night organized by the town hall.

Some participants wanted to go to Madrid due to it was the Pride ́s week, and we decided to go there to spend the Saturday. We also had the chance to go for a walk in the Chopera and to take a swim in the river. We enjoyed a musical night with the inhabitants of the village. The rest of the free time we used playing games and getting to know more about the other participant ́s life and habits.

Problems: It is not really a problem, but as the town is a bit isolated and the bus lines were poor, the only place we would go there would be Madrid, but because of the duration of the bus we only took it at weekends. So, as said before, the participants felt a lack of activities in the town (for example the public library was only open during the week and in the hours that we were working).

  1. Conclusion

Although the aims of the work were not completely met as we did not do the work we were told to do at first, both participants and local habitants were pretty happy with our staying.

As my experience as a camp leader I had a good time, and I consider it as an experience that makes you more responsable.