Denis' SCI Project in Semnevice, Czech Republic!

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February 15, 2023


Having taken part in a couple of workcamps in Serbia a few years ago, I was looking forward to finding an interesting project to take part in during a summer road trip. Due to the Covid pandemic there was limited choice on the VSI website, but by contacting Eimear in the Dublin office I was able to access a broader range of projects.

In the end, the choice came down to three projects which suited me in terms of interest, location, and timing. I ended up in the village of Semnevice in the Czech Republic in mid July. Antonín, a music teacher from Pilzn had purchased a dilapidated old rectory with the intention of renovating it to become an asset to the local community. By engaging with INEX, a Czech voluntary association, Antonín and his family were able to organise a workcamp where volunteers from across Europe were able to come and lend a hand in the project.

Conditions in the rectory were very basic, with no plumbing. It reminded me of going camping as a child. Most people quickly adjusted to the primitive facilities and came to a realisation that we can all get by with less.

Most of the work that we were involved in was outdoor and quite physical, unlike the previous camps I’d done. I was a bit apprehensive as to whether I’d be able for hard labour, but I got by despite my concerns. In terms of the overall project, the work we did was only the tip of the iceberg, yet the difference was notable and we left our mark on the place.

Over the duration you get to know the others quite well and see the change in them too. It was fascinating to see the changes in attitude and confidence in some of the participants. Taking part in the workcamp was an incredibly positive experience for them, and me.

The mayor of the village shared a few evenings with us one in his office and the others over a shared meal at the rectory. He really appreciated what Antonín and his family are doing for the village.

I left Semnevice with some aches and pains, a renewed appreciation for hard work and a bottle of the mayor’s homemade pear schnapps.