How Human Force changed my idea of volunteerism

By Davida Paul

The idea of what volunteerism meant to me was spun on its head when I attended my first volunteer camp organized by the Human Force. Change isn’t about ‘saving people’, but it’s about being a great member of whatever community you belong to.

Davida (2nd from left) on stage with fellow campers at the 2016 Human Force camp

My name is Davida Paul, and like many other high school graduates I wanted to take a ‘gap year’ to travel, and to unravel the layers of ordinary routine by diving head-first into our mysterious world. We are all fortunate to have the connections and networks within our Subud community to collaborate and take part in the many projects around the world. However, for many young people it almost feels as though we stand in the shadows amongst this. That’s why when I stumbled across, and was told about the Human Force Camp, there was a deep yearning within me to go. The Human Force Camp has provided volunteer programs for social change since 2009 in 5 different countries: Colombia, Mexico (2x), India, Indonesia (3x), and Germany.

In 2016, I participated in the Human Force camp in Kalimantan, Indonesia, where I truly experienced a transformation that wiped away my Eurocentric lens, and opened my eyes to the realities of our planet. I remember vividly when we were driving through Central Kalimantan for 2 hours, through acres upon acres of monoculture palm oil plantations. Jayadi Paembonan (Yayasan Permakulture Kalimantan Co-founder) talked about the reality of the monopoly market, social injustices, effects on the land, and how that reflects on the work they are doing. A valuable component of our time during the HF Camp was drawing upon these issues through the Global Awareness Program where the HF coordinators facilitated discussions, and spoke about the local and global contexts regarding Human Rights, Indigenous Rights, Conservation, and Sustainability. “Where there’s a problem, there’s a solution” was the mantra.

Working with indigenous people in Kalimantan, 2018

Two years after the camp I knew that I wanted to be one part of the piece of the solutions puzzle, and so I joined The Human Force’s Youth Mentorship Program. I have had the privilege to join, and facilitated the 2018 HF camp in Kalimantan as a trainee. This was my second camp and the second camp HF has held with Yayasan Permaculture Kalimantan. This new perspective as a facilitator allowed me to see, feel, and understand how humbling, and truly rewarding this work is – not only for myself, but as a collective; and how positive, relevant, socially-conscious and culturally-sensitive work can evoke change within ourselves and within communities, and develop into sustainable enterprises.

Through this new perspective gained via the Human Force Camp, and with the unwavering support of Susila Dharma Canada + SDIA, I will be attending 3 retreats over the course of 2019 with a UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Bootcamp organized by the British Columbia Council of International Cooperation. I have been able share and apply my knowledge alongside 19 other amazing youth as we develop our personal story for social change, be mentored, partake in public engagement initiatives, travel to New York for the High-Level Political Forum meeting, and learn how to implement the Sustainable Development Goals to become active SDG changemakers. Through these various opportunities I have been able to foster my growth and knowledge in social awareness, climate action, education, BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Colour) rights movements, sustainable agriculture, and regenerative land practices.

International participant nearly gets planted by locals in Kalimantan!

As for Human Force, this year we will be adding country #6, with our next camp in Colorado, USA from July 9th-19th, 2019.  We are joining together to be a part of one piece of the puzzle of solutions in our upcoming 2019 Human Force Camp in Crestone, Colorado where we’ll be immersing ourselves in the beautiful landscape of Crestone, and bridge our voluntary work with The Atalanta Association through our Global Awareness Program. Intertwined with our Global Awareness Program, which is aimed to take a deep look at relevant global, and regional issues and solutions, we will navigate our ‘self’ through personal, and group reflective activities.

Further to this, Human Force is offering a subsidy for participants who will be attending the National USA Gathering in Albuquerque, New Mexico (July 4th-8th).

If you’d like to learn about Human Force, or about our upcoming camp email us at: hellohumanforce@gmail.com or visit our facebook, and instagram page for more details.

Davida is a Human Force Youth Mentorship Program member – and a BC Council for International Cooperation United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Bootcamper