Volunteer Guidelines

Welcome to Ananda Valley General Guidelines for Guests and Volunteers 

Namaskar and welcome. 

We hope you have an enjoyable and rewarding stay with us and we are grateful for your interest and volunteer spirit. Below is some orientation information that will help you understand the daily routines and some basic information about Ananda Valley.

In order to live in a community we find that many of our actions that work well in a normal private household can become dysfunctional inside a collective house. As a general rule of thumb, one thought that can help to discern what to do and what not to do is: “If everyone else was doing this, would it help the flow of the community, or hurt?”. Internally asking this question might help to guide our actions in Ananda Valley.

We found after all these years of community living, that living and working together and passing through this process of self-development in the context of a community requires a set of principles and structures more than that of a private household. After reading the document below, feel free to contact us in case there is something disturbing you. There might be a good reason for it to be there, or who knows, you can provide a better idea given the need or situation that we identified. 

Spiritual Practices: You are welcome to join the morning and evening collective chanting (kiirtan) and meditations. Kiirtan and sitting in silent meditation together helps establish a sense of mutual connectedness and flow which is both pleasant and constructive. The program is optional and follows a structure and spirituality of Ananda Marga, however you can participate as much or little as you want and have your own way into and with the practices. Yoga ásanas are done on a daily basis, in a self-practice way. In Ananda You are also welcome to join and receive guidance to start or continue your spiritual journey. 

Meditation Guidance: Dadas and Didis (monks and nuns) , when present, are happy to teach you a meditation technique which you can use during the collective meditations. Personal lessons and counseling are also available for those who would like to get into meditation more deeply or feel they would like some guidance on the spiritual path. In order to get the most out of the collective meditation sessions, request someone to teach you the techniques before you join the sessions. If you already have your own meditation practice you are welcome to continue with that. Available on site at any given time are Acarya Shiila, Acarya Malati and Dada Mahaprajinananda to give counseling and meditation instruction for personal practice. 

Weekly Meeting: During our Monday mornings we discuss plans and work for the week and any issues which may concern the collective. Participation in the weekly meetings and accepting your tasks in your team is the minimum requirement for staying at Casa Ananda – Ananda Kalyani as a volunteer. A meeting is held on Mondays after breakfast to provide an opportunity to discuss problems, solutions and new ideas which residents wish to talk about.

Team Work: In Ananda Valley, we work in teams. Since you have come this far in the process, you are probably already delegated to one of our fantastic teams for example: Pequena Ilha Verde (Kids), Maintenance Team, Communication Team, Events Team, Agricultural Team, Ecoativo etc. Your team is excited to have you and expects you to communicate your needs and wants for your time, as well as listen to the needs of the team. 

Usage of things: When you use tools, machines and kitchen equipment that you haven’t used before, please check with the responsible person to understand how it works. Use the items for what it is intended for and not for other things. Take care of the things as if they were your own. Let us know when something breaks. 

Room Allocation: There is a men’s dorm and a women’s dorm at Ananda Valley Master Unit, there are also dorm rooms in Casa Ananda, in Paúl. During retreats or other functions volunteers may be requested to shift their sleeping place in order to make room for event participants. For this reason, please be prepared to move if asked. 

Language and Behaviour: Polite and non-violent language and behaviour should be observed at all times. Aggressive behaviour will not be accepted and if it occurs a volunteer may be asked to leave. We live with the ethical principles of Yama and Niyama from the tantric yogic traditions, that states a no-harming principle and benevolent communication.

General Cleanliness: Volunteers should keep their rooms clean and tidy and their personal belongings properly stored. Please don’t use your house slippers or shoes on the carpets in the meditation room. Please don’t go to the meditation room with dirty clothes or dirty feet. Toilets, showers and wash basins should be cleaned after use. 

Dress and Appearance: Please remember that this is an Ashram, and therefore a spiritual center where monks and nuns should be able to live in peace. In order to preserve the ashram atmosphere and make it easier for everyone to stay focused on their spiritual development, everyone is requested to wear modest clothing. In the Master Unit we have a river that goes by the land, please do not take a swim there naked. 

Relationships and Intimacy: Conscious people naturally get attracted to each other and we don’t wish to prevent that. At the same time, however, the ashram is designed to be a place where people can focus primarily on their personal and spiritual development. The ashram is also the home of monks and their trainees who are following a celibate lifestyle. Therefore we have separate rooms and dorms for the genders and we ask volunteers to refrain from intimate relationships and excessive public displays of romantic physical affection during their stay. Couples who come to Ananda Valley can stay together if they are willing to sleep in tents or private rooms (if possible). 

Use of Drugs, Alcohol, Cigarettes and Non-Vegetarian Food: We wish to maintain a clean environment suitable for meditation and good health and lifestyle. Drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and non-vegetarian food are not permitted on the premises. The yoga/satviik diet also excludes particular foods. These include eggs, onions, garlic and mushrooms. Please do not use these items in preparing food or bring them onto the property. You are welcome to enquire if you have any questions about this, or anything else. 

Initiating New Projects: Volunteers are encouraged to propose and take responsibility for new projects which can help Ananda Valley become more self-reliant and regenerative (and more interesting and fun). Volunteers interested in staying at Ananda Valley longer term could also use such projects to generate personal income. Proposals for projects should be submitted in writing to the Ananda Kalyani development committee together with a feasibility study. If the committee accepts the project proposal then the volunteer will be permitted to take time from their daily work schedule in order to work on their project. 

Fire Precautions: The majority of the buildings in Ananda Valley are made of wood. Please be extremely careful not to place candles or any other burning items on the floor or carpet without a saucer or some other adequate means of protection. Be careful with candles in rooms and always blow them out when exiting last. ATTENTION : absolute NO fire between May and October, as HIGH FIRE RISK all over Portugal. 

Lost and Found: There is a Lost and Found Box. Items left in the collective areas will be placed in this box and kept there for one week. After that they will be moved into a larger lost and found box in the storage area next to the garage. After one month, if not claimed, they will be given away or put in the give and take shop. Please take care of your belongings, and make sure you take them all with you when you leave. 

Recycling: It is necessary to carefully separate different types of garbage. There are separate containers for general compost, organic, for plastics, paper etc. which are clearly marked. Please ask for help if anything is unclear or if you don’t know where to put something. For residents of Casa Ananda: The big white buckets that are outside in the balcony, should be taken to the Ananda Valley Master Unit and dumped on a specific place that you should ask the local residents about. Note: Please, be attentive to plastic stickers in fruit and tea labels. Take these out before putting the fruit and tea bag in the compost bin. 

General House Cleaning: Every Tuesday we have our Cleaning Day. At the Monday morning meeting we decide who is going to clean what, the tasks will be assigned. It is expected for all the volunteers in the valley to be part of this weekly cleaning. In each room you will find the tasks that are needed to be done. 

Wood burning stove: When you use the stove make sure you keep everything clean. Take out the ashes, broom the floor and be careful with the carpet. Keep the wood organized. You will find instructions on how to use the stove next to it. 

Kitchen: We have a lovely kitchen team making food for us, but we all help with the cleaning after meals which includes: washing dishes, drying dishes in the drainer and storing the dishes in the kitchen cabinets, sweeping the floor, removing everything from the table, folding the tablecloth, cleaning and storing kitchen counter, leaving it tidy, taking out the trash. Please always put back the things in their proper place, don’t leave them around. It is expected for all members to clean their own dish. 

Shopping List: We have posted in the kitchen a shopping list, if you finish something, like detergents, food, gas, please write in the list so we can buy and please warn someone from the house in case of gas or other immediate thing that is needed to be bought. 

Blankets and Cushions: Volunteers are expected to bring their own sleeping bag and come with their own warm clothing. Most of the people think Portugal is a warm country all year around but it can also be cold, bring warm clothes ESPECIALLY during winter where the nights are frosty! We have a limited number of extra blankets and sleeping bags which can be provided upon request. Please do not take meditation blankets and cushions for personal use. 

Ananda Shop: We have some products, books, crafts and CDs for sale in Ananda Valley, you can ask the price and buy them if you want. We also have for sale many items produced in our farm, like vegetables, fruits, jams and other products. If you are interested, you can also buy these items to take back home. 

Picking Vegetables & other stuff: We have different zones in the land for agriculture purposes. Some are intended more for selling outside and others for our own consumption. Many times we have orders from clients, and we are counting with what’s in the land to fulfill those orders, so please do not pick vegetables without consulting first a person from the agriculture team or the main gardener.

Library: We have a library in the meditation room in Casa Ananda, you can read the books or listen to the CDs or DVD ́s. There is a paper there for you to fill with your name, the name of the book, CD or DVD you took, date of borrowing and date of returning. These books, CDs and DVD ́s should only be used inside Casa Ananda, please don’t take them out, and always be responsible to put them back in the same place. Any item should not be borrowed for more than 1 month, so others can have the opportunity to use them also. The books should be used only inside Casa Ananda. It’s Not OK to take them outside. In case it’s summer and everyone is staying in the land, ask one of the volunteer coordinators if it’s OK to open an exception. 

Power Consumption: Please turn off lights, limit water use and close doors and windows 

wherever possible. In Winter or when appropriate, in order to avoid heat loss windows should only be opened for airing for a few minutes at a time. If you open a window please take personal responsibility for closing it. 

Bicycles: We have some bicycles that can be used, please ask permission of one of the local residents at Casa Ananda or Ananda Valley before use, and always be responsible for them, keep them out of the sun, rain and keep them stored inside the garage. 

Laundry: We have a washing machine and dryer. In order to save electricity and water please wait until you can fill the machine before using it. Please consult with local residents for instructions on using the washing machines. A good idea is to share a washing load with other members. 

Vehicles: Please ask permission before borrowing a vehicle. Please fill up the car with petrol after use and return the key to its owner or to the dedicated key place. Please drive slowly on the property and avoid raising dust. 

Privacy and Personal Items: Long term residents may have marked areas in the refrigerators, kitchen cupboards and other storage areas for keeping their personal food items and belongings. Please respect these signs and do not take anyone’s personal food or belongings without permission. In case there is something that seems that doesn’t belong to anyone and could be useful to you, ask one of the team leaders if it’s OK to use. 

General Awareness: We have regular visitors and wish to keep Ananda Valley looking clean and attractive. This can only be achieved if everyone takes responsibility and pride in keeping the place beautiful. If you find something out of place or dirty, or in need of attention, before asking or pointing it out to others, see if you can fix it by yourself. If we maintain a spirit of proactivity, it’s much easier to live in a community. 

Health and Insurance: Everyone coming from an European Union country should request in their home country the European Health Insurance. It’s free (or almost) to get, and you get health coverage in Portugal. If you do not have this card, you need to pay for any kind of treatment (even emergency ones) in our Hospitals. (You can however, request the money back, once you are in your home country – depending on which country it is). If you are not coming from an EU country, or are staying for more than three months, please check in advance how to get health coverage in Portugal. Please also note that we are not responsible for any kind of injury that might occur to you during your stay with us. 

Domestic Animals: We want our land to be a safe haven for wildlife and throughout the years we have been watching an increasing number of wild animals appearing on our land that we were not watching before. Unfortunately domestic animals, in particular cats, are a major threat to wildlife. According to some studies cats are super predators for small mammals and birds especially but also small reptiles, etc, and we cannot at this stage accept volunteers that need to bring their domestic animals for this reason with some exceptions. Please talk about this with our coordinator volunteers before coming to see if there is any creative solution we can find for your situation, but as a generic rule we are not accepting domestic animals in the land. 

Work: We have different types of volunteering.

  • European voluntary service and other granted programs – your stay and training are covered by third person/program/grant.
  • Visitor – You receive accommodation and food in return of 20€ per day.
  • Volunteer without sponsor – 10 euros per day
  • Exceptions – every person is a different case. We always discuss the possible options with everyone. Don’t hesitate to contact us even if you cannot afford this value! We can cover only one or two unpaid positions.

The working week is Monday to Friday and you are expected to be present and available for work on those days. Saturday and Sunday are days off in general. Those with duties at unusual hours (e.g. food collection in summer – berries) will be allowed flexibility in the schedule. The working hours are reasonable so volunteers are expected to start work on time and follow the routine sincerely. We like creative, ambitious and autonomous minds that manifest their work with a lot of love and communication towards those in their team and others.

Lifestyle: Also some volunteers come with the expectation of knowing what it means to live off-grid in terms of electrical energy, water, not using money, etc. Although we respect the projects that are investing in such strategies a lot, we have taken another path. We are engaged in doing a lot of work in the local and regional context, and we see as an advantage for our goals to be connected to the grid in many ways: Energy, economy, culture, etc. We believe we are not the kind of project that will provide the off-grid experience that some are looking for. There are amazing projects that are dedicated to that, that will provide a much richer experience in that field. Having said that, you will surely experience a great connection with nature, and with a more natural way of living. 

Inviting Your Friends: Please do not invite or bring anyone to Ananda Valley without first consulting with the visitor’s coordinatorAs stated above we can only support a limited number of volunteers and visitors at one time and we prefer to know something about people before they come in order to plan for their coming and going. 

Tools, Instruments and Appliances: Please ask someone before using tools and equipment . After completing your work it is important to clean and return your tools or appliances to their proper location. Tools should go to the tool room, cleaning equipment to the cleaning room, kitchen utensils to the kitchen, etc. All personal belongings should be respected in the same manner. We have a lot of equipment that should be used only by those who are trained in that and already are for some time in the project. (example: tractor, wood cutting equipment, etc…). Please ask the responsible before using such equipment.  Simple equipment like a blender in the kitchen, can be used without asking, but please do so in a responsible way. Please understand that, for a serious misuse of any equipment that results in it’s damage, we might ask for some kind of contribution for its fixing. 

Expulsion: Persistent disregard of the above conditions may result in volunteers being asked to leave the property. 

Note: These rules may be revised at any time. 

Version : May 2022, Iishana

Scroll to Top