22 January, 2024

We are all Made out of Mud

Many prejudices based on culture, ethnicities and genders were busted and many hidden potentials unlocked.

In 2017, a couple of friends and activists from our organisation, GAIA, started a project in a small, remote village in the Eastern part of the country. This area of Kosovo is economically least developed, facing depopulation in particular due to migration of young people, but at the same time it lives in its own diversity without ethnic divisions.

People together in a mountain

The initial idea and the driver was about practising, learning and teaching permaculture. Looking back, it seems that we were at all not aware of the potential, possibilities and challenges. We relied a lot on the help of friends, volunteers, creativity and improvisation. Most of the things were new to us. Many things were completely unknown to us. But, we knew people and organisations that have been doing this for years and we knew how to organise volunteering projects. As the official branch of Service Civil International, we had years of experience in hosting long term volunteers, but also short term groups. There was an emerging need to bring together the knowledge of permaculture, natural building and youth work.

People doing yoga together

Soon, we realised that natural building is an unexplored area and that, so far, we managed to bring many people together through our workshops and activities on rebuilding the place with natural materials. We also realised that some of our international partners are also working and experimenting in this field and that there are no training courses, no available tools nor guidelines for those who want to do or use natural building with youth. The idea was born!

Together with partners from Slovenia, Croatia, France, Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Albania, a proposal for a project that combines natural building and youth work, as a practical answer for addressing climate change and a tool for inclusion, was submitted: We are all made out of mud! Soon after the world was struck by a pandemic and a couple of months later, our project proposal got approved.

People gathered in a campfire

We learned a lot about ourselves, from each other as well as about our organisations and dived deeper into the topic of natural building and its potentials. Fruitful and long lasting partnerships, friendships were established. Many prejudices based on culture, ethnicities and genders were busted and many hidden potentials unlocked. We opened the door of countless opportunities for engaging young people in natural building, but also using it as an empowerment tool for inclusion, equity and environmental education.

One of the outcomes of the project is a will, need and desire to continue collaborating in further development and explorations of the synergy between youth work and natural building. As one of the participants said: “I believe a strong network of people was created through this project, and that is what will help with facing the challenges. Having connections that can support each other.” The story of collaboration through working with earth and nature will continue, and with it possibilities for learning about natural building for young people, but also older once.

More about it: madeoutofmud.earth

Documentary film about building with earth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5G3A9x8huI&t=1231s

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