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Habitat welcomes international volunteers to Romania

Habitat volunteers lifting a timber frame on a construction site in Beius, Romania.

“We see the house being built and cannot believe that this is true, after living in a small room for so many years. Neither do we know how to thank the volunteers who came from all the countries to help us,” says Ferenc Kis, a Romanian homeowner who has been supported by Habitat for Humanity.

“Our old room had no utilities, but we slowly arranged water, gas and light,” says Maria, Ferenc’s wife. With the birth of their daughter Andrea 12 years ago the room became overcrowded. They were raising their little girl in the suffocating space of only 16 square meters. The room was the bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom at the same time. The toilet was outside, behind the house, and there was no light in the yard.

According to the national statistics, 35 percent of the housing stock in Romania is in a state of complete neglect and needs urgent renovation. Before the 1980s, more than 10,000 blocks of flats were constructed in the country. Today, all of them need serious upgrades of infrastructure, heating systems and roofs.

Overcrowding, lack of access to piped water and basic utilities in rural areas and unheated spaces is a reality for hundreds of families across Romania. The strain put on these families can be changed through the hope and help that local and international volunteers bring while working alongside homeowner families.

Through the little gestures of friendship, the homeowners change their approach to life as they can now contribute to others’ joy. “My wife cooked traditional food for all the volunteers, and we even learned a few words in English from them, so that whenever they come back, we will welcome them with “Hello” and invite them into our home “Welcome! Come in!” continues Ferenc.

Roma are one of the most vulnerable groups in Romania. They often live in overcrowded, unsanitary homes.

Habitat for Humanity Romania aims to help over 200 families this year. Volunteer support is the key to make this all come true. Six affiliates in Romania are ready to accept local and international volunteers in 2011: Beius, Comanesti, Cluj, Pitesti and Radauti.

The projects where volunteers will be involved are either new house builds with the timber frame technology or apartment renovations. Over 4,000 international volunteer have contributed to Habitat’s work in Romania. This year, Habitat Romania hopes to get nearly 1,000 volunteers and bring a brighter future to families in housing need.

You can bring your own team, join one of the teams that are welcoming new participants (more information) or take part in the events organized by Habitat for Humanity Romania this year: Easter Build and Serve and Learn Build.

The Roma families in Baltesti are the most stigmatized group and Habitat is supporting the integration of the families in the community through a new house build project.

Habitat for Humanity Beius has two large projects where volunteers are needed. It aims to helping 60 vulnerable families to move into a safe, decent and secure place to live.

Habitat for Humanity Comanesti needs volunteer help in building four homes in the Moinesti area, located very close to Comanesti, and in the renovation and thermal rehabilitation project.

Habitat for Humanity Cluj will welcome volunteers in two new home projects just outside the city of Cluj-Napoca.

Habitat for Humanity Pitesti received a plot of land donated by the municipality of Oarja and aims at completing eight new homes together with local and international volunteers.

In Radauti, 85 homes have been built so far, forming a real Habitat community there. This year, 12 new families can experience the joy of homeownership if enough volunteer support is secured to build their homes.

What is next?
Habitat wants people not only to read about poverty housing but to do something to fight it. You can support Habitat’s work in Europe and Central Asia in a number of ways. Here are some examples:

• Visit our donations page to support projects in Romania.
• Go to country profile pages to learn about other programs in this country.

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