For many decades, Quakers have operated short-term, international “workcamps” in environmental work, construction, renovation and social projects.
Such projects have provided Friends (and prospective Friends) from different countries an opportunity to meet up, work together and to develop lasting friendships. Many Friends first came into contact with Quakers through volunteering or hearing about projects.
Some of the events now organised by Quaker Voluntary Action (QVA) take the form of working retreats both in Britain and abroad. Venues include Quaker Meeting Houses and Swarthmoor Hall (the home of George Fox and the cradle of Quakerism).
Retreats offer a balance of practical work in the grounds with time for spiritual reflection. Accommodation is either at the venue itself or staying with local Friends. Participants cook and eat together, sharing relaxation time and informal evening activities.
Practical tasks are not arduous and can include gardening, decorating and light maintenance. Guided retreat sessions, group worship and personal quiet time are woven into the rhythm of the day which ends with an evening epilogue.
Another organisation worth mentioning is Quaker Bolivia Link (QBL) – an international non-sectarian development organisation, guided by Quaker principles, dedicated to reducing poverty among the indigenous peoples of Bolivia.