Permaculture, eco-construction and wildlife inventory

Long term volunteering

Written by Jules Domalain from France

May 2024

This article was written by Jules Domalain, from France, about his experience as a volunteer in Kosovo, in the Bozevce village, hosted by GAIA Kosovo.


A few years ago, when I was studying ecology (the science), I never would have imagined living for a year in Kosovo. I rather thought that I would finish my studies, and then that I would become a researcher or entomologist (insect specialist). And then… I decided to travel across Europe, do woofing, workcamps… And a bit by chance, I discovered GAIA, and I found myself going on civic service for a year to Kosovo, thanks to SCI France.

Jules with a snowy background

Let’s start by introducing you to my host organization, GAIA. GAIA’s mission is to work towards peace, social and environmental justice by being an example for alternative and regenerative ways of living. The organization has a property in a small village in the east of Kosovo, Bozevce, and it’s there that we mainly work and where we live. It consists of a garden and several buildings, which GAIA renovated or built according to the principles of eco-construction and permaculture. The goal of the organization is to create a sustainable place where they organize different educational and volunteering programs.

Bozevce residents working

Bozevce is a very small village located in the hills (800 m above sea level) in eastern Kosovo. Previously well populated, there are now less than 30 inhabitants in Bozevce, mainly elderly people. GAIA tries to revive the village and inspire people to come back, by showing that you can develop many activities (such as volunteering) and live there.

Bozevce village field

I arrived in Bozevce last October. There are 6 of us living here: Helena, Alex, Maja, Edon, Jeanne, another French civic service volunteer and me. Accompanied by quite a few animals: dogs, cats, goats, chickens, and geese. We live a bit like a community, sharing household chores, cooking, and caring for animals. We host groups of young people, as part of ESC or workcamps, but also scouts, to talk to them about eco-construction, permaculture and ecological living.

The activities carried out as part of my civic service are diverse: gardening, maintenance work, small or large construction, more artistic activities… We try to use natural materials of local origin as much as possible, and mainly use manual tools, even when it comes to building a stone wall! We are vegetarians and produce some of our vegetables and fruits in the garden and the greenhouse, and we buy as locally as possible: cheese and milk come from our neighbors for example.

I really appreciate this volunteering: full of manual work, delicious and healthy meals, and community life. In addition, I have not forgotten my passion for nature and animals. Since I arrived, I’ve been doing an inventory of the village’s biodiversity. And there is biodiversity in Bozevce! I have already observed 101 species of birds, 6 species of amphibians, 11 of reptiles, the wolf, the wild cat… Spring is coming and with it, insects!


Wolf caught on nightcam

In this beautiful, still well-preserved village, there are so many different species of butterflies, beetles, grasshoppers… We hope to be able to publish a small book at the end of my volunteering, in order to talk about the biodiversity of Bozevce and to raise awareness among residents and volunteers of the richness of nature that surrounds them here. And two or three times a month, I also publish a short article on our blog to talk about the species observed in the village. Don’t hesitate to go read them at https://3peas.design/blogs/!

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