Valentine im WaldhüttlWaldhüttl is a wonderful place to discover in Innsbruck. It is a place of tolerance, acceptance and sharing, where people sing and dance instead of fighting.

This house, previously a center of resistance during WWII, welcomes people who are often excluded and for whom life is not always easy: Roma people, asylum seekers, pilgrims, locals and others created together a little piece of paradise where they can feel home. Everyone participates in the renovation of the house, the community’s well-being, the garden and the animals’ care.

During two weeks in July 2016, thirteen volunteers from Austria, France, Japan, Russia, Serbia, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey met in Waldhüttl to actively participate in building Peace. We worked hard and happily under the sun and the rain, to create an accessible path for wheelchairs to the community garden, using traditional techniques to build a solid and aesthetic wall made of wood, soil and stones, meant to last for the next generations. Additionally, we painted the walls of the animal stable with chalk to isolate it better, learned how to make stairs to access the outdoor chicken house, repaired some fences, prepared a raised bed garden for handicapped people following the principles of permaculture, planted flowers and aromatic herbs, removed invasive plants, organized a sport event with Roma people and refugees, took part in a Roma festivity and organized a human library with the next door neighbour-refugees.

We also had the opportunity to make an alternative tour of Innsbruck, following the social areas rather than the touristic paths, experiment Acro-yoga, discover the wonderful mountains surrounding Innsbruck, pick up mushrooms, cook and eat world recipes, play a lot of games, dance till the sun rises and learn how to notice, respect and appreciate cultural differences.

Valentine im Waldhütl 2The main outcome of this workcamp was to inspire youngsters from different corners of our world to become engaged and active citizens. No matter the road the participants choose afterwards, they hopefully developed a wide curiosity for others, a strong will to participate in civil society through volunteering, activism or even just a certain way of living, the ability to reflect and the desire to learn. We, as participants, understood that before being a refugee, a Roma, a Cameroonese citizen or a Muslim, we are all human beings with feelings, dreams and challenges. We also grasped the importance of caring for each other and acting for change. Last but not least, we experienced the following philosophy: “most of the time, we think we help others but we are actually learning ourselves.”