Hi everyone!

I am Leonardo and I come from Milan. I turned 26 years old while I was in Quinta das Relvas, Portugal and I must say that I never expected to celebrate my birthday in those fantastic circumstances!

As often happens in life I found myself full of uncertainties in front of my future and what to do with my life!! For some years I have been suffering from periods of depression and the recent end of a relationship had left me devastated. Not everything is negative though, I know I am very privileged and lucky in life: I am about to graduate, I have done all sorts of jobs, from selling in craft markets to driving and I have a great passion for literature, international relations and other cultures. However, I had no idea which direction to take and after three months of quarantine due to the biggest pandemic of our days (hopefully no more!) the conditions were not the most favorable, I lost a lot of things that I really cared about…

But sadness aside!!!! Here I had the opportunity to participate in the project of Kora and Quinta Das Relvas and therefore to leave for Portugal! I accepted immediately and I knew right away that it was going to happen anyway, I would have had a great experience!

The work at Quinta is really hard, Antonio does very well to highlight it and repeat it several times during the interview…. But then you really understand it only when you’re in it!! And yet, the gratification he gives you is worth every effort. We have done everything, we have taken care of the logistics of the tents and houses of the ecological hostel, we have learned how to take care of the vegetable gardens and maintain the animals according to the principles of permaculture and we have built an eco-sustainable house from the very foundations! All this allowed me to learn how to do a lot of new things that I never expected to know: use all kinds of tools, grow my own fruits and vegetables, take care of the plants, eat in a healthier and more sustainable way, build a place where I can live and above all, confront myself with people of all kinds and learn to socialize with them.

During a dinner with Quinta’s staff and the other Italian volunteers, Antonio said jokingly (maybe not even too jokingly): “In the worst possible scenario everything you have learned will be useful to survive in a post-apocalyptic world… in the best case scenario you will at least know how to do many things for your home, family and your livelihood without having to pay someone else to do it”.  In short, not bad!

In averting future apocalypse I have to say that the most important thing I have learned and will always serve me in life, whatever I go to do and whatever circumstances I will find myself in, is TO DO. Always do, no matter the cost, no matter how complicated, long and tiring it may seem: always do. Roll up your sleeves, take a deep breath, put your mind at ease and get busy. Anything is possible if you really want to do it… And if you have people at your side to help each other, doing it will be much more pleasant, effective and fast! And what you get in return will be invaluable.

It hasn’t always been all pleasant, of course, you can’t always manage to be charged, cheerful and motivated to the stars, and relating with others in a positive way is never taken for granted. The difficulties are there, but even from these I learned and the mistakes made were invaluable lessons. On the other hand, learning to get up after every defeat is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and to others.

I saw with my own eyes how from an abandoned land in the middle of nowhere, people with a valid idea managed to create a reality where people from everywhere come together in search of new stimuli, innovative knowledge, rest and detachment from everyday stress and frenzy. All this in a truly organized, efficient, sustainable, professional and loving environment. I’m really happy to have given my very small part in this great project and I suggest to anyone to go and try to give your contribution. In return I wish you to receive, as I did, so many stimuli and ideas to develop and believe in your projects, to work hard to progress every day and to live a complete experience of benefit for you, your neighbor and our Planet.

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