Volunteer in Bar’am

So it has been three weeks since I arrived in the kibbutz. It’s in the North near Lebanon, I can actually see Lebanon from there (It’s crazy to think that I can’t cross the border though…border made by an English and a …French yes!).

During my journey in the bus I was amazed by the view because this country is incredible, it’s so beautiful!

What’s a kibbutz? 

A kibbutz is a community, a village if you prefer, that put everything in common, people work and live together (not exactly but at first it was like this) and receive what they need.

So my kibbutz is quite unique (but each kibbutz is different anyway). First it’s a “big” one there are about 290 adults members and around 40 volunteers, plus the children, so about 500 people I guess. It’s also as a friend said, a “stubborn” kibbutz as they want to keep the original concept intact and not privatise as it has been the case in other kibbutzim, they are quite conservative.

The kibbutz is wealthy. They earn a lot of money from the plastic factory but also from fruit production.

You have access to anything you need and even more. My roommate has to give me a complete tour of the kibbutz but it’s really big, it’s like a village. The places that volunteers know the most are the shop named Kolbo (you can’t pay with money, they give you a card and you add money on it, so when I say you don’t use money here you really don’t!), the pub but it’s being renovated and the swimming pool that opened maybe two weeks after I arrived! Several nights per week a cafe called members club opens for the evening, where you can enjoy drinks etc…There are several sports ground and many bomb shelters! Ours has been flooded, so we can’t use it anymore, it was a temporary solution for us to party while the pub was being renovated…

What do you do there?

Here as a volunteer I work about 8 hours a day. First I was in the apple factory and orchards, so picking fruits and packing them. After a week I was moved to kitchen and I enjoy much more! We help preparing the food for the people eating at the dinning room, the entire kibbutz don’t eat there of course, but enough people coming everyday to keep the dinning room open. As volunteers we don’t pay the food. Actually we don’t pay for anything, apart if we want to smoke or drink everything else, is free! It’s something interesting, because you don’t have to worry about money here, everything you need is provided. And the job you are doing isn’t the same because you are not paid, it’s like a direct transaction, against your work you receive what you need and actually even more.

The group of volunteers here is awesome. The night I arrived was pub night so I had a really warm welcome and partied with others! I felt integrated in no time. I share a room with a Danish guy named Martin, people call him Crazy Martin but I learnt that after moving in with him (If I had knew…. no Martin you know I am joking ;) ). He is crazy about hikes and think Danish lack of empathy. He is obsessed with croissant.

People comes from everywhere, we have a big group of Korean, Scandinavian, and South American. I am the only French now ,but people keep coming and going, since I arrived I think about 12 people left and as much arrived. The one staying are our two coordinators ,Liora she is a member from the kibbutz I don’t know how long she has been here but a very long time, and Lena who came here about 10 years ago .

Talking about people living here permanently, they are called members.

It takes about a year and a half to become one and then you have access to all the facilities and have also all the rights (and responsibilities)  such as participating in the general assembly and a lot more…They don’t receive a salary but a certain amount of money according their needs, so it depends the size of the family, age of the people etc…and a lot of complicated calculation that I don’t know.Basically it’s not about the work you are doing, everyone is equal. This is why the money you get isn’t technically a salary . However a lot of kibbutzim changed and now some of them actually pay their members. Members also own their house, whereas here in Bar’am you don’t, the kibbutz is owned by everyone. You live in a house but it’s not “yours”.

I have still a lot to write about so I will tell you more in another article but I hope this help you to understand what is a kibbutz, but share if you have questions or information as well if you have been to a kibbutz or are currently living in one!

Yalla bye :)

Kibbutz website (check the photos gallery!)

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