Thursday, July 07, 2011

Valaam Volunteer program

The fantastic island of Valaam is one of the most picturesque places and beautiful monasteries in the Northwest of Russia.

Vallam is sometimes called "Mount Athos of the North". Valaam, surrounded by the archipelago of more than 50 beautiful small islands, is situated in Ladoga Lake - the biggest freshwater lake in Europe with the average width of 83km! and maximum depth of 230m!. During its centuries-old history, the Monastery has undergone devastation and desolation time and again. But, by God's mercy, every time it revived again. In atheistic Soviet Union Monastery has also undergone devastation. But on December 14, 1989 a ship moored in the harbour, there were the first six monks on board and gradually monastic life started to revive. Since that day, the new history of Valaam began. A great amount of temples and churches are situated here, a lot of pilgrims come every summer to visit Holy Earth and to help in renovation works. You can see photos of Valaam at

The project “Valaam Volunteer program” carried out by Russian and foreign volunteers is aimed at restoring farming in Spaso-Preobrazhenskiy monastery of Valaam.

Anybody who has reached the age of 18 and would like to make a difference to the holy place is welcome to join in and feel the unique atmosphere of the island.

A lot of monks live in Valaam today. Some of them renovate old churches, other work in the fields. A lot of people help them to save cultural heritage, and due to them a lot of churches of Valaam are already renovated. In general, you will have the same life-style, as pilgrims, who came to work for the monastery. Your task will be to help the monks in cleaning the fields, cutting down grass, preparing firewood. Very often girls are required to help in the agricultural works in the farm or to help on the kitchen. Most of the fields are experimental, as during Soviet times nobody worked here and the old fields were completely covered by trees... Only 3-4 years ago fields were cleaned. Also monks still are renovating the old building of the farm, where nobody lived for dozens of years.

Boys-volunteers usually do more difficult job for example, they could be asked to help in restauration works, in preparing firewood...

The farm is situated in 5 kilometers from the monastery, and monks will drive you in the car to the workplace and back. Those, who work on the farm, eat there.

The head of the farm is father Veniamin, and about 20-30 brothers live there. They aren't monks, some of them just prepare themselves to become monks, and this process takes not less than 5 years (sometimes more then 10).

Camp address: Russia, Republic of Karelia, Sortavala, Valaam island, Valaam monastery.