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Serving to learn: International schools making a difference with Habitat

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In Europe and Central Asia, Habitat works with international schools to organize local builds and volunteer trips through its Global Village program as part of the Creativity, Action, Service experience. The Global Village program allows school teams of volunteers to travel to various locations and work alongside future homeowners. If there is a Habitat program in the country, schools are encouraged to participate and get involved with local volunteer work. No prior construction experience is necessary as teams work with skilled construction workers who provide supervision and guidance to the future homeowners and local volunteers.

“Habitat is a fantastic program on many levels for high school students. First, it is a good lesson in basic economics for students, as well as an introduction to social services. Second, it is an excellent hands-on experience. There is nothing more satisfying for children than the ability to see at the end of the day or time on a build site what they have accomplished - walls are up, concrete is poured, or a roof is on,” says Ben O’Brien from American International School Budapest.

“Many say that there is no reward in helping others, for one gets nothing in return. However, no money can buy the smile of pure happiness on a child’s face or the trace of tears in an adult’s eyes”, said Lisa, a graduate from Skagerak International School, Sandefjord, Norway, after her Global Village volunteering trip with Habitat.

Feelings like Lisa’s are shared by many throughout Europe and the Middle East, from Sandefjord to Milan and from Cairo to Doha, as over 50 schools from these regions embark every year on Habitat for Humanity projects.

“Habitat for Humanity offers wonderful opportunities for students and teachers alike to channel their motivation and energy through action. Whether one’s participation is simply focused on the preparation and implementation of fundraising events or is coupled with a trip to a building site, there is plenty to do for anyone who wishes to be involved in a transformative educational experience. Travelling teams will also enjoy unique opportunities to engage, first hand, in meaningful cultural exchange such as communicating in a new language, tasting different foods, listening and/or dancing to traditional music. Are you looking for an amazing sustainable educational model? Look no further! With Habitat for Humanity the experiences of a few empowers each of us at school and beyond to reach out and make a difference!” said Jacques deSousa from Skagerak International School.

Skagerak International School has been involved with Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village program since 2000 and has done builds in Poland, Romania and Portugal, while American International School Budapest has been a steady supporter of the Habitat for Humanity program in Hungary since 2005.

Find out more about how your school can get involved with Habitat for Humanity.

What is next?
Habitat wants people not only to read about poverty housing but 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 Europe and Central Asia.
• Go to country profile pages to learn about other programs in Europe and Central Asia.

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