Contributed by Heather Smith
On 24rd July 2016, 3 leaders and 8 senior section members from across the Midlands left Birmingham airport to embark on a truly life changing trip. The Birmingham members were Lauren Armitage, Sara Wootton as well as myself and Lauren Timmington as leaders.
We were travelling to Estonia to work alongside a volunteering organisation (Concordia) and work on a community farm in what seemed like the middle of nowhere deep in Estonian forest. We were 4 hours by bus from the capital city Tallinn so by the time we had changed flights and travelled to the farm it was an exhausting trip!
We were met by our host Aigor and taken to Kiidi farm. We dropped off our bags, got shown our accommodation (which was a purpose built log cabin for our visit) and had some dinner. It wasn’t till the morning when we stepped onto the balcony of our hut that we really realised what an amazing place we had come to. The views of deep forest were spectacular and the air was so fresh. We had a tour of the farm and found out just how much Estonian’s love saunas- there were 3 on the farm alone!
We were then introduced to the work, which we did every day for 4 hours. One day we built a volleyball court, followed by other days chopping down branches, picking berries and moving wood- LOTS of wood! By the end of the 10 days it was a very impressive pile we had worked through as we had to take it all inside to prepare for the winter. We also visited a local B&B run by an English lady and helped do the gardening for her. Luckily there was a work/play balance and our hosts looked after us so well to take us to local cultural sights, arrange craft workshops, beach trips, even a trip to Latvia! We went to a whole day folk festival in another city which was world renowned and incredible! The girls danced all day and night and rocked our tie dye t-shirts with style! Another day we visited a youth camp where we spent the whole day speaking to local teenagers and joining in their camp activities- which included a car crash simulator and a once in a lifetime trip on an army truck through the forest. These are just a few of the activities we got up to, we were constantly busy.
It was very sad leaving the farm, our hosts had gone out of their way to make us welcome and provide for us. All of the meals were home cooked and delicious. We had been treated to a true Estonian lifestyle, especially trying out the saunas! Our final goodbye was to name the log cabin we stayed in- Midi Kiidi (as it was in the middle of the hill and we are from the Midlands!). We made a sign and had a mini ceremony; it was truly hard to leave.
After saying long goodbyes we headed back to Tallinn for another jam packed 3 days of sightseeing, lots more food and souvenir shopping before returning home. An absolutely amazing experience and one which we won’t forget in a hurry- thanks to all who helped and supported with the trip and through fundraising activities beforehand.