Volunteering at Tzivon

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Middle East » Israel » North District
August 9th 2009
Published: November 18th 2009
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After resting for a few days we set off again in the direction North of the country to a place called Zivon. Through Lotan, we had been in contact via email and phone with a group of people who were part of a Kibbutz that were fairly new and small (24 families) but were in the process of turning the village into an Eco village, using grey water systems, growing vegetables, only buying from the locality, being aware of their carbon footprint, they were building using mud and wood Chipping’s from the locality. They were also in the process of setting up a learning centre to teach Perma-Culture.

We took the train from Haifa north to Akko, then we took a bus on to Zivon, however, when we got to the station the bus had gone. After a few phone calls we were put in contact with another volunteer who was driving through Akko to Zivon, she arranged to pick us up on her way through. We then drove on for another three-quarters of an hour to the village/hamlet of Zivon. There were five of us volunteering for the week, we were to learn/help with building of a huge mud
Mud wall is nearly readyMud wall is nearly readyMud wall is nearly ready

Now need to wait unntil it is dried before adding the second layer of mud
wall in an old warehouse and help to put in grey water systems for the local residents. We also had to build composting toilets and showers (grey water system) for the volunteers, and for the first batch of students who were arriving for a taster in four days time.

On arrival I realised how small the community was and that we had to stay outside in tents in the woods, this was fine, we had just left our tent behind! All food was supplied (vegetarian) but we had to cook for ourselves. The day started at 7am and we were free around 2pm so it was not such a hard time. We had two mentors, Gilad and Ruben, Gilad had studied in America and Ruben had studied in Holland, both were really knowledgeable, committed to their lifestyle and nice people, Ruben particularly was patient and a great teacher.

Our (me and Ram) first job was helping to build, plumb and set up the shower, a lot of digging, I enjoyed the plumbing, and it was a nice feeling to have a shower later that day knowing that I had help to make it happen.

On the next
Making the mixMaking the mixMaking the mix

Liz brings some maltch for the mix of the mud
day we all went to a huge warehouse that was to be the new centre for learning. Our first job here was to build the battening to start on the mud and wood chip walls, this consisted of making up a wooden frame for the wall, with old doors to hold the mud mix in (everything was recycled where ever possible). We then made up a mix of mud, water and wood Chipping’s this mix was then put into the frame and tamped down. The wall we were building was about 20m wide and about 6m high, so a lot of mix had to be made. It was going to take about a month for this to dry out completely ready for the mud plaster finish. This was our job for the next few days, it was hard, tiring and very dirty work, but also it was very satisfying to see the walls emerge once we removed the battening.

We also worked on the grey water systems for the local homes, this involved digging trenches in the garden, sometimes round existing fruit trees, sometimes in the place that was to be the vegetable garden. We had to put in pipe work for a seep system for the water, we also had to connect new pipe work from the house outlet to the soak away. The water was coming from the sinks and washing machines in the house, with the ability to connect back to the mains if bleach etc. was ever used.

The working day normally went on longer than we realise we would then all muck in and cook a lunch together, then we would rest, read, chat or go off exploring the locality. The nearest village was fairly small but had a shop and a few streets worth looking round, it was an Arab village, but despite this, everyone was very friendly. By the end of the day we were all really tired, it was a very physical job. We went to our tents early and despite the rocky ground and mosquitoes, fell asleep really quickly, one night four of us headed into a local town and had a pizza for supper, and walked round the town with its lovely old buildings and views to the sea.

Where we were staying had once been an army base. The buildings had been converted into homes, with a few communal rooms for things like the kindergarten, offices and wash areas. A big communal vegetable garden had been put into the middle of the village, all the villagers tended this, from old down to the toddlers, it was lovely to see the community spirit, and the vegetables were pretty impressive also. There was a lovely oak wood to one side of the village, this is where we were all camping. The future plan of the village is to increase in size to about 100 families, so it will become quite large. The larger buildings were apart from the houses and here there were a few local businesses, one a clothes factory (ethnic), one was a Yurt making business. This was a really interesting business, all the Yurts were made in the old ways and the wood was green wood, and was bent by steaming it and putting under pressure, this was repeated gently over a period of time until the wood was at the correct angle. There was also a huge chicken shed, so plenty of fresh eggs. The scenery and the area was really beautiful and very green compared to further south of the country. It was a bit unnerving to hear bangs or thumps, I thought it was blasting at a quarry, but when I asked I was told it was probably shelling, we were right on the border with Lebanon, I could actually see it with the naked eye. I have to say though, despite this, I have never felt unsafe or afraid whilst being here in Israel, there is so much security everywhere and everyone is very vigilant and after a while, you just forget that it is in an unstable area.

On day four when the students arrived, we felt old hat, and knew quite a bit already. I was flattered as I was asked to project manage or teach two separate groups how to make up the mud mix and how to build the wall. It was good fun and I was pleased that the guys I was teaching didn’t have a problem with taking orders from me, and that they liked the way I gave them direction and were interested enough to ask questions and listen to what I had to say.

The week was soon over, I had again met some amazing, knowledgeable, inspiring and kind people, but it was time to head back via the borders of Lebanon and Syria and down towards the sea of Galilee and across to Haifa, a lovely drive through some lovely countryside.


11th September 2012

Amazing experenice!
HEY! It looks amazing! I'm going to Israel next month, would like to work in the community too Could you give me the email address or contact to the Eco Kibbutz Tzivon. Galilee. Israel? TKS
25th September 2012

Hi Sadly the venture in Tzivon no longer exists because of lack of cooperation from the residents of the Kibbutz. However I think meeting the people at "Goats with the Wind" can be a very nice welcome and a good start. Good luck and enjoy, Ram

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