Volunteering the Camino Way in Portugal and Spain

Hola, amigos, I’m getting ready to return to Spain and Portugal, with new experiences to broaden my Camino journey. How does the Camino inspire?  I believe in following my intuition, reading the signs along the Way and paying attention.  Volunteer opportunities for my September/October Camino appeared when I followed the signs, just like when I walk. And then deciding which way to go. This is a revised post from my original on July 6. 

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Spain or Portugal? Let’s walk  both, on the Camino Portugués, 2018

I invite you to follow my Camino this September and October, possibly another section of the breathtaking Portuguese coast. And maybe other surprises, as it’s early for me to commit to a route.  My walking “plans”  are still in pencil, as  I know there are many times we must step onto an alternate plane, so I have made friends with pencils, erasers and Plan B.

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On the Camino Francés, 2016

I’ll admit I’m walking this path with a great deal of hope and faith that all will work out, or at least, “The Camino Will Provide.” And I’ve embraced Impermanence. Everything changes, from each step moving forward to the ideas and plans we create in our mind and on paper. This will be my fifth journey on the Camino and each has been full of surprises and unexpected experiences. Every step disappears behind us. So onward we walk!   

Packing for the Camino is always challenging for me, especially attempting to reduce the weight of my backpack and take only the minimum. This time I will begin my Camino with an extra bag of work clothes I will leave in Portugal. I love the simplicity of the Camino. But I feel time is of the essence, so I’m combining and adding more to my journey. Is there such an experience as complicated simplicity? Time will tell!

Volunteering

My favorite quote by Margaret Mead, needs no explanation:  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Volunteering time and resources is a way we can give back to the Camino. Pilgrims who have trained as hospitaleros  and work in Albergues or the Pilgrim Officedonate their time and share stories about the rewards they personally receive by giving of themselves. The two-way path of Kindness on the Camino, receiving and giving.  (Click links to  learn about the American Pilgrims on the Camino training and other Camino Volunteer opportunities). While volunteering is rewarding, it’s not all easy, it’s work and often challenging, as many volunteers report. I hope to report back when I return! 

Bookending my Camino this year will be two volunteer commitments. In September I’m volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Amarante, Portugal, a town only an hour outside of Porto, where I walked just last year on the Camino Portuguése Central and Coastal, and in October as a Hospitalera in Astorga. 

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An hour away from Porto
Habitat for Humanity, Amarante, Portugal September 7 – 16, 2019

I will be working with a team of Habitat for Humanity volunteers to help rehab an older home in Amarante, Portugal.

I walked on the Senda Litoral, the Seaside Camino and the Central Route last year, but often the Camino passes by residential areas and we don’t know very much about the towns or the people who live there. Or the condition of their homes!

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Rooftops of Porto 2018 

And the mysteries within the homes of the people living there. Just like any country, there is a range of income and needs of the residents. Everyone deserves a decent home! 

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On the Way to O Porriño, Camino Portugues 2018

From Habitat for Humanity:  “Housing is a major concern of poor Portuguese families, who often live in dilapidated homes in rural areas or shacks in the big cities. Successive governments have liberalized key areas of the economy over the past 20 years after decades of military dictatorship, but economic growth has been slowing since 2001. The recent financial crisis left many people without jobs or savings to improve housing conditions.”

Hospitalera in Astorga, Spain

If you’re walking the Camino Francés and will be in Astorga, Spain, October 1-15, please stop by to say hola or stay in Albergue de Peregrinos Siervas de Maria, where I will be serving as a hospitalera.  I stayed there last year with my Camino amiga, Marylee.

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Irene and Marylee            Leon before the walk to Astorga 2018

This opportunity showed up when another Camino friend I met during my Hospitalero training, Marcella, let me know she would be volunteering.  We are scheduled to be working together for two weeks starting the beginning of October, after each of us walks our own Caminos.  And then, in a flash, more Camino days added to our dreams and memories. 

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Marcella and Irene                Muxia 2018

Hope to walk with you again in September. Below are memories of walking the spectacular Seaside Camino Portuguése, 2018.  

Buen Camino and Bom Caminho, Irene

 

8 thoughts on “Volunteering the Camino Way in Portugal and Spain

  1. Once more it will be enriching to follow along with you on the Camino…..this time coupled with the work of the extraordinary Habitat for Humanity.

    Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Pete, for following along with me. We have many journeys to share and I feel like you’re walking with me as I begin to make my travel arrangements, as well as work on my Habitat for Humanity team campaign. I’m grateful that we’re on the same path. Buen Camino, amiga. 👣

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    1. Thank you for your support and good wishes, Marilyn. I hope to report on my volunteer experiences and the Camino. It’s always one step at a time and you’ll be walking with me. Buen Camino 👣, Irene

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  2. I am here to support you as you make a positive impact on others that are less fortunate. Wishing you the best and safe Camino. Thanks for keeping us posted. Chuck W

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