The ESC Teams project “Team for Healthy Life – T4HL”, financed by the European Solidarity Corps programme and run by Associazione Joint in cooperation with Casa delle Farfalle di Bordano in Italy, has come to an end!
The overall objective of the project, in accordance with the priorities set for 2021, was to promote well-being and a healthy lifestyle for the volunteers and local communities. It was an opportunity for participants to reclaim a space to socialise in a healthy and safe manner, while engaging in volunteer activities that promote the inclusion of vulnerable groups, health and wellbeing in communities.
Project activities touched on specific themes, in accordance with the host organisation and the needs of the local community:
Discover also the Team 4 Healthy Life project taking place in Belvedere Marittimo at Fattoria Agriturismo l’Arca!
We have already come to the end of this very rewarding experience, where we were able to enjoy as a community a different kind of environment than we are used to. I initially applied for this project because Casa Delle Farfalle seemed to me to be a special place, with magic and delicacy, where we could be in contact with nature. My expectations were high, but I far exceeded them, because the staff of the Joint Association and Casa Delle Farfalle welcomed us with open arms, showing us their love and their beautiful vision of the world.
Above all, I learnt to live in community, to respect my colleagues and the environment. I did super fun activities and jobs that I had never done before and my general opinion is that in this kind of project you always learn new things and that if you are thinking of doing this project or one like it, I encourage you to take the step, because we had the opportunity to share these two months with new people and to be close to nature, where we exchanged experiences and thoughts, and had the opportunity to take care together of this unique environment that deserves to be treated with sensitivity and affection.
We will leave here with the opportunity to meet the community of Bordano and the families who hosted us the first few days, after making friends, learning more about the different species and enjoying the company of the people of this small piece of northern Italy, who are always grateful.
I came from a very humble background and did not have many opportunities to study abroad, which was what I wanted at the time. However, I decided to study Cultural and Social Anthropology because I loved (and still love) cultural exchange. At that time, I discovered volunteering abroad and was captivated by the beauty of it all. I found a way to meet and get to know other cultures in depth and learn from people all over the world and this fulfilled my inner passion to travel and learn about other cultures through food, research on religion and crafts and even art. Then I studied communication and decided to start applying for volunteer opportunities that would allow me to develop my technical skills while travelling and meeting new cultures and people from all over Europe.
Curiosity was the basis of my initial approach to the project, but I expected a trip full of nature appreciation, artistic expression and personal growth. To my delight, these expectations were not only fulfilled, but exceeded. The Butterfly House has been a classroom of life for me. Within its walls, I discovered the importance of animal conservation and the beauty of natural science education. This trip has been an expansive horizon; it has deepened my appreciation for animals and broadened my worldview through the great work we did in the Cavazzo Lake and the enclosure of the Butterfly House greenhouse.
My experience was characterised by active involvement in communication and content creation. I was also actively involved in the maintenance work of the green spaces at Cassa delle Farfalle and Lake Cavazzo, where we cleaned and prepared the space for the rainy season, clearing the path from weeds to allow water to flow freely, while at Casa Delle Farfalle we helped in the process of closing the greenhouses for the winter season, keeping the animals safe and cleaning the different spaces there for the coming season. In conclusion, I believe I will return home with a wealth of new skills related to manual work, but also personal and emotional work and skills related to visual storytelling that I did not have before coming.
In retrospect, my stay at the Butterfly House is an anthology of cherished moments and profound insights. The project’s unwavering dedication to animals, green spaces, eco-sustainability and cultural exchange was inspiring to me. His collaborative spirit, sense of responsibility for the work he did, and relentless commitment to giving volunteers the maximum experience, always taking all parties into consideration, is something I will always be grateful for.
I can say that I highly recommend the Butterfly House experience to young people looking for a transformative experience. It is a unique cultural exchange project for those who love nature at its best, an eco-friendly lifestyle and the great world of audiovisual storytelling through content creation. It also offers the opportunity to contribute to a wonderful community and an ongoing exchange with the local community. Anyone looking for these things in an experience should definitely try it.
The Butterfly House is not just a place, but a transformative step into the heart of nature, community and human connection. It is a unique exchange between the local and the global that one must experience once global that one must experience once in a lifetime.
It’s July, I’m not sure which way to go, I feel trapped in the usual routine and I have to make decisions I don’t want to make.
Scrolling through instagram stories I come across this project by chance, and I immediately realise that it could be for me. I have always loved nature and animals, but having studied mainly mammals at university, I don’t know much about the world of insects and I am intrigued. So, on 9 September 2023 I get on the Flixbus that will take me to Udine, and then to this small town unknown to me (Bordano) where there is ‘La casa delle farfalle’, where I will work with 12 other people for the next 2 months. The place fully reflects my expectations: quiet, among the mountains, with people who are immediately suspicious, then curious and finally hospitable.
I decided to participate in this project because I believed I would work with animals, taking care of them, unfortunately this did not happen. I can divide what I have learnt into three categories: personal, which includes, for example, being able to transform insecurities into strengths and knowing how to adapt to the group…; theoretical, which theoretical, which includes what I have learnt about host animals, and practical, which includes almost every single job I have done over the past few months.
So what did I do in the middle of the mountains for two months? The activities I personally did the most were: cleaning the greenery; sewing a fabric that serves as a backdrop for the greenhouses where the animals are kept; moving furniture and objects as needed; personally, the work that gave me the most satisfaction was collecting plastic from the lake and the river. But there is more than just work! During this period, I also had the opportunity to have many new experiences: rafting, gong baths, ceramics… And I was also able to travel to get to know Friuli, Slovenia and Croatia better.
Overall the balance of the experience is positive, even though the type of work was not what I expected, I enjoyed being able to do new things and meet people from different cultures. So, if I am asked to advise young people to have a similar experience, I would definitely do it, in fact, my suggestion is not to wait until the age of 30 but to do it as soon as possible!
I have always lived in my small village, close to the sea and the mountains, a fundamental gift in my life. This has helped me to understand what I need to have in my routine and feel good, and nature is one of these things. I had been going through a complex period with university for a few months, so I thought that volunteering in a natural environment and being in contact with new people could help me feel better and regain some energy. In fact, my experience in this world began by participating in a project at a farm where I adopted a completely healthy lifestyle, which allowed me to broaden my knowledge of organic farming and learn how to knowledge of organic farming and learn to be in contact with animals.
My enthusiasm and desire to get to know other realities outside my own country led me to take the opportunity to participate in the Butterfly House project. A place where you can be in contact with hundreds and hundreds of species of insects and butterflies from all over the world. Here I had the opportunity to carry out a variety of activities: cleaning of green spaces, maintenance of different places inside and outside the Butterfly House, ceramics workshops, rafting in the Tagliamento River, involvement in organising activities for volunteers with people from the local community, support in the production of content for social media.
Through carrying out these activities I understood the importance of caring for green spaces in places like Bordano and its surroundings, which are at hydrogeological risk. I think the most satisfying job was cleaning one of the streams near the lake of Cavazzo (magnificent) to allow rainwater to flow through. After finishing that work, there were several rainfalls, and thanks to that, a natural waterfall was created that left us speechless! It was really exciting for me to see the end result.
It was an experience that gave me many moments that I will cherish, a period of fundamental personal growth, surrounded by indescribable natural beauty. I met fantastic people who welcomed me with open arms, Rossella and Stefano in particular, from whom I always received support and from whom I always received great enthusiasm. I am grateful for the opportunity given to me, for the moments spent with all the volunteers and people at the Butterfly House. It is a project that highly recommend, to broaden one’s vision, to make new connections, to experience a unique life experience in itself.
The special feature of the ESC Teams is its short duration, ranging from 2 weeks to a maximum of 2 months. This aspect makes it accessible also to young people who work or study and cannot dedicate a whole year to travel! Despite the brevity of the projects, Group ESCs offer meaningful and intense life experiences, during which numerous professional skills can be acquired. Moreover, by sharing life and work with a group of people, similar to a community, lɜ participants have the opportunity to create strong bonds even in a short period of time.