Skilled wwoofing with purpose

Traveling can be very expensive, but not if you start wwoofing. Acronym for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, this letters have become a name, a verb and even an adjective, indicating an active approach to visiting a country. Not only you work for accommodation, but you also learn a language, learn new skills, get to know locals and make some interesting connections. Worth mentioning also the amazing people you get to know. It’s a win-win situation.

Working for free has its own benefits. Similarly to volunteering, removing money from the equation frees your tasks from those big expectations of normal life and creates a relaxed environment. Of course you need to reach a certain standard, but somehow it’s different. You actually enjoy what you are doing.

I heard about wwoofing from various friends and travel mates, but I haven’t tried it until I reached New Zealand. And while in places like Kawai Purapura Yoga Retreat I was asked to work on unqualified duties like gardening or accommodation setting, I also find a way for a skilled and more rewarding job. This happened at Sacred Earth Retreat, a paradisiac environment on Auckland’s West Coast on a protected hill overlooking a gorgeous volcanic beach. Small and family-run but with a high potential and a long-term project to bring a positive change in troubled souls, it was the perfect organization to help. With my partner and favorite team mate, I offered to promote the place with our professional communication activities. While I interviewed people and wrote a feature, a press release and a fact sheet highlighting the best features of the retreat, he prepared three short promotional videos to help the future customers to dive in the magic of the place. Eventually, in just over two weeks we were able to deliver a rich press kit that they can now use to grow their business.

The idea is to find meaningful activities and help them to grow and reach a wider audience. Share what we like. Promote good changes. Of course all this can’t always be made for free, but every big project needs to be tested somehow, isn’t it?

Community superheroes

Doing for good is something that I’ve always appreciated, but I didn’t realize it until I started volunteering. You have to start somewhere, and I did in Australia, nearly one month after I landed on this country. It was a nice way to meet new people and support a cause and add an experience to my journey Down Under. But shortly it became more. Right after the first day as a volunteer waitress at Lentil as Anything, I felt happy, I came home overwhelmed by enthusiasm and positive energy, I was friendlier than usual, explosive, lighter, and I had a big lovely smile printed on my face. In one word, I was fulfilled.

Not only me. You see businessmen cleaning dishes and filling water bottles with a happy and relaxed face after a long busy day at work. Old people and teenagers from different countries chopping vegetables while laughing and dancing together. And students serving at tables and practicing their social skills while talking with customers. And not only at Lentils. Food Not Bombs cooks food and distributes it for free to people in need. Oz Harvest collects vegetables, bread and other leftovers from shops, markets and restaurants to fight food waste and prepare free meals for homeless people. At Vinnies, volunteers recycled clothes, book, furnitures and other things and sell them in not-for-profit vintage shops. In almost any field you find interesting opportunities. Sport events, concerts, festivals, hospitals, schools, markets, protests. It’s community, babe. When you remove the weight of money reward to any activity, you are free. Free to enjoy your time, make new friends, do your best just for the sake of doing it.

Take fundraising, for example. I’ve worked in this field for over six months (this subject needs a proper post) and what I noticed is that people look at you differently if you are paid. It’s just as simple as that. When a financial reward is involved we become suspicious, we don’t trust anymore, we turn on our consumer defenses to protect us from everyday marketing bombs. I’ve seen a lot of men and women changing their attitude completely when I told them that I chose fundraising as my job. But how can you rely on volunteers for something as important as this? It can work for small local charities and for single events, not for big international charities with a huge structure covering multiple projects.

A team of forward-thinkers in Melbourne tried to make volunteers management easier and more reliable with the project called Be Collective. As they describe it on their website, it is a “social infrastructure designed to eliminate duplication, misdirection and waste of effort, promoting a culture of kindness, recognition and support”. A web platform that would make the management process smooth and reliable, free to use. The idea is to build a community of charity lovers that can find volunteering opportunities based on their interests and location, give support and keep track of the social impact of their work.

In fact, through tis system both volunteers and charities can visualize and print the record of their work. I’d love to show it to mum and dad, add it to my cv. But also, it’s a good idea to value the time spent for community work, celebrate the effort, make analysis and decisions based on productivity… Imagine if every teenager could use his time to make a difference and have it recognized on his resume. And if every corporate worker could use one day a month and donate his effort for a cause he believes in, with the support of his boss. The project was launched early this year and hopefully will soon express its full potential. New Zealand’s government and other NGOs are already using it. Even the All Blacks are managing their charity events through this platform.

Out there, it’s easy to find a lot of different platforms, websites, blogs, Facebook groups and small organizations that try to gather volunteering efforts and promote community work. With the right tools and the right mindset, we can change the world.


As a computer is choosing randomly the 6.6 million lucky applicants who will get the tickets for the Olympic Games, Britain is getting ready for the big event. But Londoners are losing their initial excitement.

Picture: Ben Sutherland

Without any doubt, it’s disappointing – for the 1.2 million of rejected applicants and for who didn’t even try – to withstand traffic delays and the closure of the tube lines at weekends, knowing that it will be impossible for them to get into one of the brand new venues built for the occasion.

However, despite buying the tickets is obviously complicated and expensive, there are still many ways to experience next summer’s Games.