Camping under Spanish stars
Manos Unidas volunteers put energy into action
“Change yourself to save the world.” This refrain is still in my mind. These last five days in Spain will not be easily forgotten.
Twenty-five young people, coming from several Spanish regions, met for the first time at a camp to learn how to implement sustainability in their daily lives. The whole initiative comes from a group of Manos Unidas volunteers who first joined CIDSE volunteers at COP21 under the campaign “Change for the Planet - Care for the People.”
On the journey by bus to the campsite, the campers immediately created a kind and friendly atmosphere. The ice was broken after a few minutes, warmed by everyone’s mutual curiosity, our common passions and participation in past events. Finally, we arrived at el Mas de Noguera, an amazing rural eco-village run by a few people since the 70s. Locals and some young volunteers welcomed our group and even took part in some of the activities.
The first day we got to know each other and the latest CIDSE and Manos Unidas activities on the sustainable lifestyles. The amazing location allowed the group to stargaze together right after dinner. I think we spent more than an hour watching constellations and listening to the myths and ancient legends about stars and planets. It was relaxing and at the same time very charming, because we all began to share our thoughts about the universe, stars and life’s deepest questions.
The following day we explored the encyclical Laudato Si’ through a direct and participatory approach. In groups, we scanned newspapers for news on the environment and society which could be related to Laudato Si’. People were actively engaged; so many discussions were starting from any single intervention. We even continued some of the discussions during lunch and dinner! The roundtable with a few guest speakers was the most anticipated moment of the afternoon. Like in the morning, there was a nice exchange around several topics and everyone really enjoyed the contribution of the speakers!
Saturday we had a spiritual walk to the closest mountains surrounding the Mas. The walk was led by the camp leaders who integrated the encyclical into the path to reflect on nature and our impact on it. An incredible cave was the last stop of the walk, where we had a break and shared some personal thoughts.
Returning from the walk we began to develop the Decalogue: 10 lines of action to make our lives more environmentally sustainable. In different groups we came up with dozens of ideas and the rest of the day was used to think about similarities to agree on a final list. The document was presented the last day of the camp, before the evaluation and the last hugs. The document has already been sent to the hundreds of Manos Unidas delegations, and the young people who attended the camp will be ambassadors who will try to inspire other people, to bring the change we are all working for.
These last five days were so intense that it’s not easy to summarize or to share, also because the experience is very personal. Everyone came back home aware of the role we play and the responsibilities we have in moving towards the change we want. I was really surprised by the enthusiasm and the tenacity of the group. I am sure that this event changed something in everyone. It changed something that can bring the change to other people: a change which is positive, urgent and necessary.