Building stone walls in France
Yoohee participated in project YOPI, organised within the European Solidarity Corps. Thanks to this project she was able to be a part of a volunteering opportunity in France and gain a new experience.
The work took place at the middle point of the mountain at Monestier de Clemont where there is a mid-sized shelter for hikers to sleep over. Our mission consisted of several jobs, making a new hiking path to avoid avalanche in winter, re-building stone walls, making a barbecue place, and expanding a campsite.
As you can guess already, building a stone wall was assigned to my group. There’s a place for camping but it wasn’t spacious enough to accommodate many people. So the mission was to expand the space by building a stone wall at the same level as the current campsite ground.
Firstly, we dug the ground for two days to build the base for stones. Then it comes to the difficult part.
We couldn’t place any stones randomly. Each stone should meet these conditions: 1. The front side is flat 2. When stacking stones, all sides of stone should touch each other 3. Top part of stone can be flat or lean towards back of the wall to prevent stones falling forward.
Since stones have various sizes and shapes, sometimes we had to try more than 10 different stones just to fit into one spot. One of volunteers said digging makes our body tired and we sleep sound that night. On the other hand, building a stone wall makes both our body and brain tired and we don’t sleep well sometimes. It’s so true that some people even dreamed about stones!
Nevertheless, however difficult the work was, everyone patiently worked on and put their best effort. After two weeks, we finally completed our mission and the result was rewarding. Surely, everyone has become a bit of a stone expert because we could even tell which stone is good or not in the end. Each of us was quite proud of what we achieved and was already imagining hikers are happily staying at this place.
Don’t worry, we also had as much free time as working time to rest and enjoy surroundings. During free days, we visited local farms nearby and went hiking. We shared food with local people by making lots of homemade pizza and cooking each volunteer’s cultural food. Sometimes we just played games or did gymnastics for fun.
Moreover, it was great to be with volunteers who are cooperative and considerate. There were 14 of us and it was amazing to see how this big group can be managed efficiently. Each of us was assigned to tasks such as cleaning, preparing lunch or dinner, washing dishes, or emptying trash bins etc and we took turns daily. Thanks to everyone’s being accountable, the place was maintained well.
The workcamp was an interesting experience indeed and was also fulfilling by doing the work for the community.