It is Lars's first time giving an interview for a work camp that he attended. Excited and happy to be part of the interview, and as a typical German he shows up on time to start the interview. It took us just a few minutes for him to start telling me about his journey to the first work camp. I feel that Lars is being honest when it comes to the reasons why he decided to go to a work camp as he admits "I’ve never done such things and I visited already many countries and made classic holidays, and this year I wanted to do something different, do something meaningful and I think it was a good idea to help a project because such projects support people living there, children or something like that, so I wasn’t exactly in a narrow frame. I was open about it, and I found it on the SCI page, so I applied and they wanted me to go there so I did." He goes on to tell me about how he applied and how he first wanted to go to work on a farm or in a mountain hut, before finding the work camp where he served to restore a historical brewery in the Czech Republic.
I asked him how was his experience there and Lars with a smile on his face starts his confection "It was better than I expected. I must say that my expectations were not too high. I was open to new experiences and they were cool people, with cool conversation and the work was quite funny and interesting, like nothing I have ever done before." I can see how happy he is while he explains how he has been to the Czech Republic many times before either for hiking, biking, or visiting Prague, but this time when he went as a volunteer he learned much more "I learned a lot more about Czech Rep. because most people were from Czech Rep. but there were also people from Poland and from Italy and they also told me very interesting things about the life in these countries and I think this is also very interesting. It was very interesting for me because I’m always interested in other countries and other lifestyles."
Lars served as a volunteer in an old brewery in a small village called Rymarov. As he describes the building was damaged due to not being used for many decades and the work was a bit hard but they always had the chance to decide what to work and how much. Working there enabled him to learn new things as he admits "I learned quite new things, for example, one which is on my mind it’s to flatten the wood. It was quite rough wood, and we had to flatten it with machine and sandpaper and so. It was not too easy to do this in a quality way and it was very interesting. In another time we just had to remove plaster from the ceiling, and it was just very demanding work to make with a hammer and it was quite funny and I have never done that before." His work and that of the other volunteers transformed the old brewery, and he proudly shares the changes with me "there were lots of trees growing there, also on the walls, building, the trees were where they shouldn’t be, and we removed all of these things and cleaned these spots, and this is the largest change what we could make in these 5 or more days of work there."
Slowly we came to the end of our conversation, but I was not ready to finish our interview without taking his view on the importance of being a volunteer, and he gladly shares his views with me "I think it is a very good idea to do that because you can always get new experiences and then you reach new horizons and I don’t know if you know this German word “Ehrenamt” which is a work that is not paid but you support for example social projects, or other things, which you want to support. Many people do this in their free time - In their normal daily life. And I think it’s really comparable, they also want to make the change for society, and I think it’s quite comparable."
Lars, I hope you will inspire many other people to volunteer, and together to make a change in the society for better. As Helen Keller said, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much". Let's work for a better world.
P.S. Photo credits go to Lars Müller as he is the one who took them. Let's enjoy them!