Testimony from Amelie Stober

“Hi, my name is Amelie. I’m 18 years old and from Germany. As part of my gap year after finishing high school, I have spent two and a half months in Sintra and worked as a volunteer with Plantar Uma Árvore – Associação. When I arrived in the beginning of October, the very next day, the plantation season started. During this month, we planted a lot of trees and shrubs in different areas of the natural park. Depending on the location, the soil was very different and I learned a lot about the different ways of plantation, the species we planted and what they need to grow. The organized groups and community initiatives on weekends were more about coordinating the daily tasks and supporting the volunteers. Every time I was impressed by the motivation of the locals and the result at the end of the day. Not only with our small team, but especially with the community you can change a lot in a few hours. The second period of my stay was more about maintenance and it was interesting to experience the tasks of the other working season, too. Although plantation was more fun, uprooting or debarking acacias and removing blackberry bushes is part of the work for more biodiversity and important for our small plants to survive. This in mind and the “before/after” situation were my motivation for dealing with all the little sprouts and thorns.
Two of the highlights during my stay were the field trip to Vidigueiria in Alentejo region and the visit of Gil with the volunteer group of the Alvão-project. Beside work, it has been a pleasure to meet new people and share this experience with the team. Our coordinators always took good care of us and explained the reasons for the different kinds of work. I’d like to say thank you to the team: Mariana, Miguel, Julia, Margarida and Luis. They are doing an amazing job! Not only on field, but also in our free time, I had such a great time with the other volunteers: Emma, Harika, Valentin and Mario. We explored all the cultural sights in Sintra and did some nice trips to the coast, Cascais and Lisbon.
I´m really grateful that I had the opportunity to be part of this project and I will keep these memories of an amazing time in Portugal!”

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