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Escaping chaos and reconnecting with nature

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Chirokitia Eco Village aims be socially, culturally, economically and ecologically sustainable

 

There’s one in Chololo, Tanzania. Another in Narara, Australia. You’ll find at least two in Italy (Damanhur and Torri Superiore), several in Scandinavia, and more than a few scattered across the Americas. And now, Cyprus has its own prime example, located in a quiet valley just off the Limassol highway…

It’s called the Chirokitia Eco Village, and like its foreign cousins, it’s an intentional community which aims be socially, culturally, economically, and ecologically sustainable.

“An eco village,” say founders Mario Andreou, Melissa Ahearn, Soulla Andreou, Kyriacos Louka, and George Constantinou, “is a place that offers the opportunity for people to reconnect with nature, themselves and with each other: a place to remember what simplicity is.”

“We’re surrounded by technology, consumerism and chaos,” Melissa explains, “and have become so conditioned to expect everything to be easy and available at all times, that it’s made us lazy and disconnected from the true essence of what we are, the community spirit that was essential to survival. Now, that spirit is scarce. But through eco villages, we’re bringing back community spark and re-establishing social bonds.”

Designed to be self-sustaining and eco-friendly, the Chirokitia Eco Village is an escape: “A place where people release from everyday life,” Melissa explains. “Here, education and connection are the priority, and both local and international guests can visit for a day or longer to share their old and new-age knowledge, skill sets and timeless wisdom. It’s a place to celebrate, create and enjoy the creative arts and appreciate culture.”

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Both Mario and Melissa have lived in the village since its inception, in autumn 2020. But the idea had been in the works for years. You don’t, says Melissa, build an eco village overnight!

“A group of us have long shared a vision of creating something different, offering something of essence as a legacy to be carried down to the next generations; a place where we can be off grid, be sustainable and have a place where our families, friends and society can come just be themselves and have space to grow. We knew we needed to create a space of love and acceptance, where we could live in harmony with nature, respecting the needs of our planet and island…”

Chirokitia, she continues, was the ideal location for the creation of this community: “Not only does the area provide easy access to all the major cities, it’s close to the actual village of Chirokitia – the residents have been so supportive, and we like to work closely with the local community to benefit everyone in terms of services and goods. Plus, this area is also the site of one of the first Neolithic settlements in Cyprus, considered to be one of the earliest examples of a true community. That was an ethos that spoke to us – it’s exactly what we are trying to build!”

Months of backbreaking work have already gone into the creation of the eco village. It began with the clearing of the land – a task accomplished with the help of friends, family, volunteers, and workaways (usually visitors from abroad who work in return for board and lodging). Today, there’s a main multipurpose structure which serves as a kitchen, dining and seating area, open spaces that act as event locations and relaxation zones, handmade compost toilets, and a delightful amphitheatre for larger events, as well as individual spaces for residents, which include tents or hammocks for sleep.

“We’re working on more spaces for individual workshops, individual living spaces, and outdoor event locations,” Melissa continues. “And we’ve just received our first Geodesic dome, which will be perfect for hosting events or a glamping style stay!

“But the process of building an eco village is neverending,” she notes. “That’s the beauty of it. With every new structure we build we better our methods; with every obstacle we face, we improve our knowledge and inevitably, ourselves. The reward is in the process, the journey; not in the final result. And all those involved have already been transformed, physically and mentally; building a village certainly creates life-changing opportunities!”

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While a few of the basic necessities are still lacking (including access to a water supply and adequate road infrastructure), the founders are very positive about their progress. “You have to be very fluid when you enter into a project of this magnitude. So the best preparation is your mind-set: be prepared to face obstacles, changes and inevitable delays, and focus on acquiring a natural flow. It’s an organic process, which will continue to change as more people get involved. Only by being flexible, by living and working here, can we find the right formula.”

Each day in the village, Melissa continues, brings fresh challenges and excitements: “A new discovery, an appreciation, a connection with our surroundings. Being in the eco village is very much a retreat from modern day life, both for those of us who are based here permanently and for those who visit.”

Currently, the village is open to all “as a place of connection and discovery. It’s somewhere you relax, meet like-minded individuals, and enjoy time together in nature; you can drop by and participate in events, or take part in the building process. But eventually,” Melissa reveals, “we will also be offering retreats: wellness holiday packages for foreign visitors who want to stay for longer periods of time.

“Already,” she adds, “we’ve held our first event – a fundraising open day with laughter wellness, gyrokinesis, an interactive talk on the law of attraction, a drumming circle, a philosophy café discussion and a mandala art class for children and adults. And we’re also offering events each weekend throughout August, including music and sound vibrations workshops – everyone is welcome!”

Although the eco village has only just begun, it’s already a huge success, suggests Melissa. “We’ve witnessed strangers becoming friends, and children running and playing. It makes you realise you’re on the right path, that what you are doing is of great service to all. Seeing the fruits of your labour turn into something priceless truly feels fantastic. We can’t wait to see what happens next!”

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