Irish Halloween for our EVS volunteers

 

Volunteers with their Halloween pumpkin

Nino, Sarah and Siri with their Halloween pumpkin

Halloween is an important part of the Irish culture as it is an original Irish festival, marking the time when the bright summer and autumn moves into the darkness of winter. We, the EVS volunteers, were delighted to enjoy Halloween this year!

 

Over the past few weeks, we saw the shops and houses decorated with skeletons, pumpkins, spiders and their webs, bats and all the scary stuffs you can imagine.

Nightmare on Highstreet in Drumshanbo

The Haunted House in Drumshanbo

We also enjoyed decorating our home with spiders, bats, a black cat and obviously, a magnificent Halloween pumpkin proudly carved by ourselves!

 

A lot of Halloween events took place in County Leitrim and we enjoyed a Halloween party in a pub in Carrick-on-Shannon. Finally we went to the “Haunted House” in Drumshanbo during Halloween night. In the darkness of the labyrinth, people dressed up like monsters and creepy creatures emerged from nowhere, with frightening noises and screams. What a creepy experience!

Even the weather on Halloween night seemed to be in a scary mood, with fog, yellow moon and frost!

 Now we can say that we have had the creepiest and best Halloween in our lives!

 

 

The Belarusians are coming!

Our Advanced Planned Visit started on Wednesday November 7th 2018, when Del picked us up from the airport. Two of us came on an APV: me, Sasha, a volunteer whose year-long EVS project was about to start, and Alisa, volunteer coordinator of Fialta, my sending organization. The first thing Alisa did was to get into the driver’s seat, which wasn’t surprising for Del, though – it seems like everyone needs time to adjust to differences when they’re in Ireland for the first time and driving on the different side of the road is one of those things.

Our first encounter with Leitrim was when we stopped for lunch at a nice little café, the food was good, the people – really friendly and looking genuinely interested in what these new people are here for, which was nice. Since then I have been impressed by general friendliness and that is one of the things that helped me settle in faster.  After lunch I had a chance to drop my bags at volunteers’ house and have a quick look, then we headed straight to the office of GEAI in Ballinaglera Community Hall. We went straight into planning my upcoming EVS, both sending and hosting organizations had to make sure I understood volunteer’s role, was familiar with aims, objectives and main ideas of the project, knew what was expected of me and could ask about important aspects before the project started. In the evening we enjoyed a homemade dinner with the representatives of GEAI and had a chance to get to know each other in a less formal way. Also, that night we visited a local pub where a music session was happening, that was something I’ve never seen before and I was greatly impressed. Although by the end of the night I was falling asleep right there, because by that time we had been up for about 22 hours (there is a 3-hour difference with Belarus and we had an early flight).

Next day we were planning Climate Action Days for school together, and it was great to start participating actively straight away.  And in the first couple of days we were able to see a few totally different types of Irish weather – from a bright sunny day to lashing rain, which also gave me an idea of what is waiting for me in the coming year. The next dinner we had was cooked by the volunteers, each one made a national dish and it was absolutely delicious. For us it was great to have two homemade vegetarian dinners in the row, we were taken great care of.

So this Advanced Planned Visit happened to be a very important step before the start of the project, gave the two organizations opportunity to discuss important issues and helped me, the volunteer, settle in easier and get ready for the project.

(Sasha)

Cool Planet Experience

Calculating our carbon footprint

Sarah and Siri, GEAI volunteers, visited yesterday the Cool Planet Experience in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow! Together with our previous volunteer, Francesca, the Cool Planet Champion from Co. Leitrim, we wondered in this unique, interactive climate change experience. Our journey started with calculating our personal carbon footprint, which was much higher than expected!

Then we continued in the disaster room, where we saw the devastating effects of our actions on our planet, and the consequences we are going to face if we will not chanCool Planet Experience braceletsge. Flooding, famine, and complete dystopia. A scary scenario but real nevertheless! With this bad feeling about our planet we entered the globe room, where we were informed about the science behind the climate change and what we can do to tackle the problem. After that, we continued to the ‘Race to 2050’ room. In a series of funny video games, we managed to save a city from the brink of destruction. We built wind farms, insulated homes and put solar panels on the roofs, fixed water leakages and recycled tonnes of plastic and metal! Sarah was the absolute winner, as she managed to have the highest score in all the games! What a climate agent! She absolutely saved the city!Cool Planet Experience Enniskerry

But our success doesn’t stop there! In the quiz room we got the highest score of the week, answering right most of the questions. Did you know that 40 000 cows are slaughtered every week in Ireland? We did, but were as disturbed by the fact, as you are!

And off to the Forest of Hope where we could finally relax and have our hopes restored. If we all act now and stop self-destructive practices, we can save our future. In the room of Brighter Futures we pledged to reduce meat consumption, use our cars less and make our houses environmentally friendly.

As a result we will manage to reduce our carbon footprint significantly.Cool Planet Experience Small changes in our everyday life that can make a huge difference. A roller coaster of an experience! We started terrified but went out full of hope and promises to act now! Why don’t you too?

 

 

 

 

 

“Good Energies 2020” – main focus of the coming year

Group young people Climate Change People Change projectSeptember brought a new start to “Good Energies 2020”, our Strategic EVS project funded by Erasmus+. This project will use the enthusiasm and skills of our EVS volunteers to contribute to our work in combating climate change, empowering young people to tackle climate change and to become climate leaders in their communities. This project will continue for two years and will be the main focus of our EVS volunteers until then.

As part of this project, we will be working with schools and communities, organising climate action projects and days, carrying out energy surveys in local towns, giving seminars and organising conferences. In our work with schools, we will be working with Eco-Unesco, who are engaged with the development of climate change modules for Transition Year students. Our work is ground-breaking and we will be very much focusing on non-formal learning in our methodologies.

Our first action is to organise a series of Climate Action days with Transition Year students in Mohill Community College. Our first day is on 23rd October and our EVS volunteers look forward to working with those young people.

 

 

Erasmus+ logo

A great summer and busy September!

What a really great and warm summer we had in Ireland! Yes, we enjoyed ourselves but
climate action is never-ending and we were still active during the summer.

Adoption of the fossil fuels Divestment Bill

Adoption of the fossil fuels Divestment Bill

In July, we sent two young EVS volunteers from Leitrim to Greece for the month to work in a
forest to try to keep it safe from forest fires. They succeeded – their area didn’t suffer from the
forest fires that devastated other forests in the region.

On 12th July, we were delighted to be present in Leinster House during the adoption of the fossil fuels Divestment Bill.

In August, we sent another two volunteers to Greece for the month; they all agreed that it was a very worthwhile thing to do and were extremely enthusiastic about their EVS experience. This encourages GEAI to continue to send young people abroad to volunteer in the future.

In September, comes a new start for GEAI – Siri, a new Greek volunteer arrived. Siri arrived on 25th, the day that Dublin celebrated the 3rd anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals’ adoption. We all supported the celebration – an exciting start to Siri’s EVS year with us!

EVS Volunteers with GEAI

Pre-departure training for EVS project in Greece

September also brought a new start to “Good Energies 2020”, our Strategic EVS project funded by Erasmus+. This project will continue for two years and will be the main focus of our EVS volunteers until then. During this time, we aim to continue the work of empowering young people to tackle climate change and to become climate leaders in their communities. We will be working with schools and communities, organising climate action projects and days, carrying out energy surveys in local towns, giving seminars and organising conferences.

In our work with schools, we will be working with ECO-UNESCO, who are engaged with the development of climate change modules for Transition Year students. Our work is ground-breaking and we will be very much focusing on non-formal learning in our methodologies.

Sustainable Development Goals March - Powerful Communities banner

Celebrating the 3rd Anniversary of the SDGs

Nino, our Italian EVS volunteer, took part in the “Reimagining our Rural Communities” event organised by Leitrim Development Company on September 26th. The aim was to stimulate debate and share ideas and opportunities for the future of the county.

“I participated in a group discussion on our dreams for Leitrim,” said Nino. “Our group agreed that Leitrim could become the first sustainable county in Ireland!“

On 28th, five of us went to Rosses Point armed with thermometers, pH meters and nitrate tests to survey this magnificent beach as part of the European Coastwatch Survey. Blue Flag beaches, the Atlantic ocean, miles of sand with a few walkers, rock-pools, cliffs, dunes, you name it. The usual denizens of the rock-pools were alive and well – crabs, shrimps, sea anemones,

Coastwatch Survey Rosses Point

Coastwatch Survey – Rosses Point

sea-urchins and periwinkles. As well as masses of seaweeds, of course. We had a really lovely time and arrived home greatly encouraged in our aim to preserve this wonderful earth.

Finally, in September Good Energies Alliance Ireland achieved registered Charity status, which opens up doors in bringing in volunteers from non-EU countries as well as giving us more potential for fund-raising.

A good beginning to Autumn 2018!

 

 

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