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#Missionday (day 8)

This day was completely dedicated to giving back to Portugal, its nature, and the communities around us. From the early morning, we spread ourselves all over the area of Serra da Estrela, and the villages in surrounding areas to do many different kinds of volunteering. Below, some of the Y-Toppians shared their experience. Nun-Nursery Mission: going to a local nunnery, where the nuns run a day care for young children, and work in the garden on their own produce of peaches, nectarines, oranges, and more. Omry: this was the first time I got to experience and feel the true Portugal. It was an almost magical feeling arriving in this nunnery, with terracing vegetable gardens all around, and them inviting us so heartily. They invited us into their church and sang Portuguese songs for us. Valdemar: it was hard work, but also really nice volunteering here. We cared for all the vegetable and fruit trees and got to taste the peaches and nectarines ourselves, too. The nuns also made us lunch and we felt very welcomed and included into their small community. Mountain Mission: going up the mountain, to the area where there’s a ski piste in winter time, and work your way down the mountain to collect all the trash, plastic, and metal that gets hidden under the snow and then accumulates when the snow melts. The goal set by Lino was 150 kg; we collected 250 kg. Sil: I had the impression that Portugal, compared to other countries, has a less conscious mentality about keeping the environment clean and tidy, or even about doing voluntary work in general. This was interesting to see, and made it an even better experience because we made a huge difference on the mountain side. Rakel: to me, it was a special chance to get to familiarise with the mountain’s nature at a slower, more peaceful pace. Compared to the hike, which was quite high-speed, we just slowly worked our way down the mountain, along with some nice music and good company, and got to enjoy the beauty of the mountain in a completely different way. Kindergarten ‘The Magical Egg’ Mission: fixing and cheering up the entire place. Painting the fences in many colours, cutting the overgrown trees, removing the weeds from the playground, and painting the play house. Afterwards, we familiarised ourselves with the local gypsy community and got to hear about a local project that fosters (technological) development, inclusion and education in Portuguese gypsy communities. Etai: it doesn’t really matter what type of work you do. In the case of the kindergarten, what really mattered to me is how we impressed the local community and all worked together to make a difference. People from the surrounding neighbourhood came to help us and were genuinely interested; even the mayor stayed with us the entire day. In the end, not only did we leave the place unrecognisably better to what it was before, but we left an incredibly positive mark on the people there and spread the positive aspects of volunteering. Emma: it was a really positive, and satisfying experience. I was surprised to find the kindergarten in such a neglected, glum state. Even though it was really hot and hard work, it was very cool to see everyone work together and create such a big difference in such a short time, even though I thought we would never be able to finish it all. Although the day was centred around all the volunteering projects, we should not forget about the dinner the Italians organised for everyone that evening. It might have been the last Country Dinner of this Y-TOP Gathering, but it was most definitely not the least. The warm welcoming song, many amazing main dishes, and affogato (ice cream and cold coffee) afterwards were as memorable as ever!


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