The Portugal trajectory is for youngsters from 13 to 23 years old who feel that they are standing still and are stuck in often unnatural patterns and persistent survival mechanisms. They often show a tendency to isolate themselves from the surrounding environment and society.
The new surrounding and new way of dealing and interaction gives the youngster the opportunity to discover authentic values and possibilities. The focus is on breaking through blockages and existing patterns and learning new functional patterns, appropriate to the stage of life.
You stay on a farm in Portugal, in the mountains and next to a river. The place is wild and invites connection and change. In a natural way you participate in the daily life on the farm and you help in the way you live and take care of the place. This provides a new frame of reference; a framework that is unique, quirky and unconventional.
You detach from your daily environment and enter a completely new world that is unique to you. The new way of life gives you the opportunity to connect with the world, with others and ultimately with yourself in a different way.
The trajectories are just as self-willed as you are and are completed in accordance with your questions and needs.
Youngsters aged 13 to 23 who think differently / learn differently as a result of a high intelligence, often accompanied by high sensitivity and creative talent. They are young people who, due to their own way of thinking and acting, find it difficult to fit into a static society based on standardized values, expectations and results.
With their own and unique sound, they are young people who thrive in a dynamic environment with natural, non-imposed rhythms and structures. An environment characterized by curiosity, nuance, imperfection, diversity, whimsicality and complexity, on the basis of which these youngsters can discover how to transform their values into meaningful self-identifying routes and projects.
The youngster experiences complex psychosocial problems in several areas of life, sometimes combined with addiction problems. When thinking and acting, the youngster is stuck in stubborn patterns and survival mechanisms and needs support to break through these. The youngster often displays unnatural living rhythms and patterns and lives at a distance from society.
Dionísio farm in Trinta
The Quinta Dionísio is a 2 Ha wild driven farm on the banks of the Mondego River in the beautiful Serra da Estrela Mountains. It used to be the farm of the miller who ground rye in the watermill and brought it by donkey to the high-altitude village. Years later, the farm functioned as a natural learning place for young people and it soon became a community where many people found a temporary home within nature. The farm belongs to Trinta, a delightful village of 300 inhabitants where tradition and innovation go hand in hand creating a laid-back and engaging atmosphere.
Content of the trajectory
The youngster takes an active part in life on a farm in the mountains of Portugal. The community consists of youngsters, international volunteers, professional youth workers and workshop facilitators. We can host between 2 and 4 youngsters at the same time.
As a youngster you participate in the various daily activities in the field of household, maintenance, landscape development and food production.
In addition, there is a continuous workshop program in the fields of art, organic building, permaculture, herbs and food processing and social entrepreneurship.
Finally, the process includes a stage for personal development: reflection and support of personal and interpersonal issues by means of conversations and exercises in the field of mindfulness, bodywork and play.
Own stage, own compass
The youngster experiences that it is possible to give a different meaning to their environment and the supposed society. They are provided with tools to contribute with their head, heart and hands to the shaping of that specific other meaning, and to transform it into new / different life goals. From a self-built creative stage they learn to follow their own rhythm and compass.
Stimulating intrinsic motivation leads to self-direction and responsibility. Being inspired to think and act autonomously leads to increased self-reliance. Learning to contribute to the community (the group) and the place leads to an awareness of collective responsibility. Together this leads to resilience, i.e. being able to discover, learn, experiment and develop from one’s own direction, consistency and flexibility.
Duration of the trajectory
For now we offer trajectories of 5 weeks or 35 days. We have experienced that a stay in Portuguese life can be so intense and connecting that a youngster can start moving home after this period.
A follow-up process and / or a sustainable connection with the project in Portugal belong to the possibilities.
Individual versus communal
The individual trajectory is determined by a predefined action plan and concrete goals.
The youngster is part of the place and the group, learns to take care of these and experiences that the place and the group take care of him / her as a person. This process is reciprocal and self-explanatory. In this way the conditions are created for the individual trajectory.
Understanding and accepting the values and dynamics of collective life is forms important part of the journee. The youngster is organically addressed on taking responsibilities and thereby develops self-esteem and confidence. This leads to change.
The Portugal team consists of mental health professionals, artists and experts in ecological construction and sustainable land use; all have extensive experience with youth work. The youngster has a personal mentor who is ultimately responsible. Together with the system and the youngster, the mentor designs the goal plan and the trajectory. The mentor supports the developmental path of the youngster and coordinates with the team. The mentor is also responsible for communication with the home front and for aftercare.
The majority of youngsters are already following an aid program within the Dutch Youth Act or Social Support Law – through a designated care fund. The Portugal trajectory is often a much needed addition / catalyst. A separate application is required for participation.
And then back home
A new story within the old context…
Support when returning home and in the period after is important. The youngster comes from a low-gear time lapse in which hard work has been dedicated on inner processes and an important narrative has been added to his / her life.
In this period the mentor is an essential presence in the life of the youngster regarding the reflection on experiences, processes and changes. The Portugal story must take shape within the systemic context. The changes are embedded in a functional environment in order to be perpetuated.