Category Archives: Volunteering

Bahia, Brazil (Thanksgiving 2018)

Join this team to partner with Habitat for Humanity Brazil and help bring strength, stability and independence to a family in need of a decent place to live.

Our team will work beside local masons and neighbors to provide safe, affordable housing for families in Brazil.  We’ll be working on a project called “The Future Begins at Home”, which has a goal of guaranteeing that children and youths in socially vulnerable situations have a more adequate home to live in so as to lower the occurrence of disease, improve their performance in school and favor their full development as citizens who can enjoy a future with more opportunities. We’ll be working in the state of Bahia in a community called Vila Esperança (Village of Hope). This community could not have a more appropriate name. There are around 200 families living in Vila Esperança and every single house is in precarious conditions. Many families don’t have bathrooms in their homes. Most houses have dirt floors, deteriorated walls and few windows. The community is not paved and there is a train track that goes straight through the community with no gates to prevent children from running onto the tracks. Families in Vila Esperança earn an average of R$720 reais per month (approx. US$180) and are primarily headed by single women. But even with all of the struggles that these people go through, they still have so much strength, perseverance, joy and expectations for the future.

As you build with the family, you’ll be welcomed into the community, eat traditional food and meet the neighbors whose community you’re helping to improve. Your work will have a lasting impact as Habitat will continue to support the families through workshops and trainings after your team returns home.

General Itinerary

  • Saturday: Depart. Grab your packed bags and head for Brazil!
  • Sunday: Arrive. Join us in Brazil where you’ll be greeted at the airport by Habitat staff. After meeting the other volunteers on your team, you’ll spend the afternoon together. Over dinner, Habitat Brazil staff will share about their innovative work in the region and as well as more information on the week’s project.
  • Monday-Thursday: Build. Your team will build with local, skilled construction workers. After work, the team will have time for excursions, rest and to reflect on the day’s experiences with the rest of the team at dinner. On Wednesday you’ll visit a local school and learn more about the community.
  • Friday: Celebrate. Enjoy your final day of building with partner families before the dedication ceremony.
  • Saturday: Explore. Spend the final day exploring the beauty of Brazil with a visit to local sites. Close out the trip by reflecting on the week’s experiences over dinner with your team.
  • Sunday: Goodbyes. Depart for home or continue your journey in Brazil independently.

More About The Housing Need in Brazil 

The housing figures in Brazil are staggering: About 26 million people living in urban areas do not have access to water; 14 million are not served by a trash collection service; and 83 million are not connected to sewage systems. The national housing deficit has been estimated at 7.2 million units. Even more alarming, the number of existing vacant properties has been estimated at 5.5 million.

Habitat for Humanity Brazil is working in more than 12 cities in three Brazilian states. For the past 20 years, Habitat has supported several initiatives, in addition to traditional home construction. In the city of Guaruja, Habitat is building a housing settlement for families living precariously on the banks of the Acarau River, without sewage, garbage collection or basic services. In Varjada, Habitat is training families in financial literacy, self-help construction and home improvement.

More About Habitat for Humanity

Global Village is Habitat for Humanity’s international volunteer program. Teams travel to over 40 countries to work alongside communities, build housing solutions, and experience local culture. Our goal is to change the lives of the people we serve, as well as the lives of the volunteers.

To join a team or learn more, visit www.habitat.org/gv.

About Habitat for Humanity International

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity has grown from a grassroots effort that began on a community farm in southern Georgia in 1976 to a global nonprofit housing organization in nearly 1,400 communities across the U.S. and in over 70 countries. People partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.

Bahia, Brazil (November 2018)

Join this team to partner with Habitat for Humanity Brazil and help bring strength, stability and independence to a family in need of a decent place to live.

Our team will work beside local masons and neighbors to provide safe, affordable housing for families in Brazil.  We’ll be working on a project called “The Future Begins at Home”, which has a goal of guaranteeing that children and youths in socially vulnerable situations have a more adequate home to live in so as to lower the occurrence of disease, improve their performance in school and favor their full development as citizens who can enjoy a future with more opportunities. We’ll be working in the state of Bahia in a community called Vila Esperança (Village of Hope). This community could not have a more appropriate name. There are around 200 families living in Vila Esperança and every single house is in precarious conditions. Many families don’t have bathrooms in their homes. Most houses have dirt floors, deteriorated walls and few windows. The community is not paved and there is a train track that goes straight through the community with no gates to prevent children from running onto the tracks. Families in Vila Esperança earn an average of R$720 reais per month (approx. US$180) and are primarily headed by single women. But even with all of the struggles that these people go through, they still have so much strength, perseverance, joy and expectations for the future.

As you build with the family, you’ll be welcomed into the community, eat traditional food and meet the neighbors whose community you’re helping to improve. Your work will have a lasting impact as Habitat will continue to support the families through workshops and trainings after your team returns home.

General Itinerary

  • Saturday: Depart. Grab your packed bags and head for Brazil!
  • Sunday: Arrive. Join us in Brazil where you’ll be greeted at the airport by Habitat staff. After meeting the other volunteers on your team, you’ll spend the afternoon together. Over dinner, Habitat Brazil staff will share about their innovative work in the region and as well as more information on the week’s project.
  • Monday-Thursday: Build. Your team will build with local, skilled construction workers. After work, the team will have time for excursions, rest and to reflect on the day’s experiences with the rest of the team at dinner. On Wednesday you’ll visit a local school and learn more about the community.
  • Friday: Celebrate. Enjoy your final day of building with partner families before the dedication ceremony.
  • Saturday: Explore. Spend the final day exploring the beauty of Brazil with a visit to local sites. Close out the trip by reflecting on the week’s experiences over dinner with your team.
  • Sunday: Goodbyes. Depart for home or continue your journey in Brazil independently.

More About The Housing Need in Brazil 

The housing figures in Brazil are staggering: About 26 million people living in urban areas do not have access to water; 14 million are not served by a trash collection service; and 83 million are not connected to sewage systems. The national housing deficit has been estimated at 7.2 million units. Even more alarming, the number of existing vacant properties has been estimated at 5.5 million.

Habitat for Humanity Brazil is working in more than 12 cities in three Brazilian states. For the past 20 years, Habitat has supported several initiatives, in addition to traditional home construction. In the city of Guaruja, Habitat is building a housing settlement for families living precariously on the banks of the Acarau River, without sewage, garbage collection or basic services. In Varjada, Habitat is training families in financial literacy, self-help construction and home improvement.

More About Habitat for Humanity

Global Village is Habitat for Humanity’s international volunteer program. Teams travel to over 40 countries to work alongside communities, build housing solutions, and experience local culture. Our goal is to change the lives of the people we serve, as well as the lives of the volunteers.

To join a team or learn more, visit www.habitat.org/gv.

About Habitat for Humanity International

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity has grown from a grassroots effort that began on a community farm in southern Georgia in 1976 to a global nonprofit housing organization in nearly 1,400 communities across the U.S. and in over 70 countries. People partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.

Looking back on a great year…

It’s only a few days into 2018 and already I’m in full swing:  planning, organizing, scheming and plotting.  Haha, so many fun things coming up soon!  But before I get caught up in what’s next, I find myself looking back and thinking “WOW”.  2017 brought so many truly special moments.  Many of them were centered around my volunteer travels and none of them would have been possible without so many wonderful supporters.  Let me say that again to make sure it’s clear.  I couldn’t do any of this without YOU! 🙂

In 2017, I was fortunate enough to build homes with Habitat for Humanity Global Village teams in China, Mexico and Cambodia.  I worked with over 40 volunteers to help 3 families build safe and secure homes.  And along the way, more than 20 donors and supporters helped me to raise over $3000 to further this mission – thank you!  Truly amazing numbers.  But the numbers tell only part of the story.  It’s the special moments on these trips are what really get you.

In each location, the families, teams, building techniques and culture were extremely different.  We never knew what to expect until we arrived.  And I can honestly say that none of the trips were what I imagined as I was planning for them – they were all much better. 🙂

In China, our team of 8 volunteers worked with Mr. Long as he built a home for his multi-generational family.  Soon 13 people will be living safely here all under one roof!  You can read more about our trip to China here and see some photos of our work here.

 

In Mexico, a large team of 18 volunteers worked with Margarita – a widow who lives with her 3 daughters, 2 sons and daughter-in-law.  After her husband passed away, Margarita had to take on all of the household duties.  Life is challenging but she never complains – in fact, quite the opposite.  Margarita shared her smile with us daily and after we left, she said that she was still “dreaming about the work that was done and all the faces of the people that helped.”

    

The Big Build in Cambodia was a whirlwind of activity (read more here) and at the future homes of Sopheap and Sophary, you could feel the excitement.  Our team of 18 volunteers helped raise the walls of their homes and were inspired by their stories and outlook on life.

    

2018 will take me to many new places including (Vietnam, Jordan and Brazil) and I continue to be grateful for your support.  To those of you who have traveled around the world with me, thank you for the investment you’ve made!  But you don’t have to join a team to participate.  Whether it be a ride to the airport, a gift of tangible items or monetary donations to share with families around the world or even a message of encouragement, your involvement in this mission is paramount to it’s success and I am so thankful to have you on this journey with me.  Continue to ask questions, I love to talk about the trips!  If you want to be more involved, let me know and I’ll give you a slideshow – we can share the word together!  And remember, when you are ready – there’s always room for you on the next trip. 🙂

Just in case you’ve gotten all the way through this post and these words move you…I’m currently fundraising to help families in Brazil, Jordan and Vietnam .  Click on the country of your choice to access my fundraising page or let me know if you’d like to send any donations of clothing or other supplies. 🙂  Thanks in advance!

A BIG Build

In November, had the opportunity to lead a Global Village Volunteer Team for Habitat to Humanity to Cambodia.  What a great experience!  It was not only the first time I’d traveled to Cambodia, but also a new volunteer experience for me – out of 20+ international volunteer trips, this was my first BIG build. 🙂

What, you may ask, makes this so special and WHY, Tricia, are you emphasizing the “BIG” part of this?  Well, this was no ordinary project.  In summary – 265 international volunteers came together during the same 5 days in Battambang province to build 23 houses for deserving homeowners.  If that doesn’t qualify as BIG I’m not sure what does.

From time to time, countries who are working with Habitat for Humanity decide to put on a special event and focus their resources on helping lots of families at the same time.  It’s their way of boosting their capacity and serving as many homeowners as possible!   This event, known as a “Big” or “Blitz” Build, is not only a mechanism by which homes are constructed, but also serves to build a bigger community of volunteers.  Here’s a little bit of information from Habitat for Humanity Cambodia on this years event.

During this year’s Cambodia Big Build, 17 teams of 2-40 volunteers each from 6 different countries participated.  The largest groups came from the US, Canada and New Zealand, but volunteers from Australia, Great Britain, Hong Kong were there to contribute too!  Here’s a photo of most of the group – wow.

Because of the size of the group, the logistics were obviously very different than most of the other projects on which I’ve participated.  Instead of spending a week in the most remote corner of Kyrgyzstan, Zambia or China where few tourists ever travel, we created our own international convey descending on Siem Reap and Battambang en masse.  We spent time not just learning about the local culture, but meeting new volunteers from home too.  It was great fun!  Well…once we got going.  We arrived in Siem Reap and traveled by 14 buses for about 3 hours to reach Battambang.  Upon arrival, let’s just say the check in area was a little overwhelming…

We were welcomed to Cambodia with a dinner and presentation at the Governor’s Palace.  We learned about the work of HFH Cambodia, enjoyed a good meal, and were treated to some traditional Cambodian music and dance!

  

The next morning, it was finally time to get started building those 23 homes.  We loaded up our buses again and traveled about 20 minutes from the hotel to the work community – complete with police escort!  There was more ceremony for us before the hard work started – HFH Cambodia presented each volunteer with a traditional scarf and then we gathered in the lunch tent for another presentation.  Let’s just say that seeing so many people together in the same place at the same time for the same purpose was inspiring.

But when it really hit us all was when we were introduced to the 23 future-homeowners.  Each family sent one person to the stage and two representatives were selected to give short speeches.  They talked about how excited they were for this opportunity to own a home and how honored they were that we had volunteered to assist them.  Their stories touched our hearts and motived us even more to do everything we could over the next 5 days.

After a little more pomp and circumstance, at last we were released to work!  The 23 homes that would be built were located in two separate communities just a few minutes drive apart.  My team set off for “Site 1”.  Here we are….on our way… 

On this site, 9 houses would be built – all on the same street.  When we arrived, the foundations of the houses were complete and they also had a roof!  The roof is usually put on last but because the weather forecast included rain, local workers put them on so that we could continue our work no matter what.  No rest for the weary.

Our tasks over the 5 days included carrying lots buckets of mortar and sand as well as building all of the walls on each home.  Toward the end of the week, we also prepared the floor and plastered the walls.  The site was a buzz every day with ~100 people scurrying about.  Just looking up and down the street you can tell how hard everyone was working.

Well, we were working hard until the donut lady showed up. 😉 

Since finishing the houses by Friday was the goal, local workers helped to bring all of the houses to the same stage each evening.  On the morning of the last day, we were ready to present the homes to the families!  Everyone cleaned up their respective worksites, decorated the façade, and then (you guessed it!) held a short ceremony.  We allowed the homeowners to cut the ribbon on their home and presented them with a group photo, gift basket and symbolic key before removing our shoes and becoming their first guests.  We shared our thoughts with each other and celebrated this huge milestone together.  Here’s an example of what one of the homes looked like when we were finished: It was an emotional but exciting week and looking back, it’s amazing to think about how much was accomplished!  This was an incredible trip for many reasons and I’m so glad that I participated.  Stories of our particular homeowner will follow soon.  🙂 🙂

***Thanks to Habitat for Humanity Cambodia for hosting this event and for the group photo included in the above post.

Tien Giang, Vietnam (March 2018)

Recruiting for this build is now complete – check back for stories our our adventures!

The Tien Giang province, situated along the Mekong Delta’s coastline, faces the ocean and is one of the most vulnerable communities at risk to typhoons and storms from the ocean, leading to flooding in the area and destruction of poorly construction homes. This team will work to provide access to safe shelter, water and sanitation facilities for low income families.

While poverty has fallen in Vietnam in recent years, many ethnic minorities and those living in rural areas remain poor. Urban poverty is also a challenge, as towns and cities swell with the influx of people drawn by economic opportunities.

Many homes in Vietnam were built informally and without adequate supporting infrastructure. About a quarter of the country’s housing stock is substandard or temporary.

Habitat for Humanity Vietnam, established in 2001, specializes in the implementation of sustainable, community-based shelter and water and sanitation solutions. It has experience in rehabilitating and repairing properties damaged by the severe weather that frequently strikes the country’s long coastline. Habitat also works with microfinance networks so families can save and access credit for home improvements, a speedy way to help thousands of families improve their sanitation and housing.

For more information about this trip, please follow this link.

About Habitat for Humanity International

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity has grown from a grassroots effort that began on a community farm in southern Georgia in 1976 to a global nonprofit housing organization in nearly 1,400 communities across the U.S. and in over 70 countries. People partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.

Global Village is Habitat for Humanity’s international volunteer program. Teams travel to over 40 countries to work alongside communities, build housing solutions, and experience local culture. Our goal is to change the lives of the people we serve, as well as the lives of the volunteers.

This post contains information provided by Habitat for Humanity International and Habitat for Humanity Vietnam.  Their help and support is much appreciated.