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The gift of giving and receiving

Just before Margaret Yankowski was leaving Macedonia last autumn to go out and help yet another community in need, she said: “People always talk to me about how much I have given Habitat, but, really, no matter how much I give to Habitat, it always gives so much more to me”.


Margaret Yankowski on the build site in Veles, Macedonia.



Chris Fontanesi with Roma children in Romania.



Jan Bodewes got an award for his dedication to voluntary work.

A seventy-something-year-old lady from Virginia, the United States, spent with Habitat for Humanity in Macedonia five months as an international volunteer on its Global Village program. By the time she got to Southern Europe, Margaret was well versed in all things pertinent to Global Village, as she had spent a couple years prior to that at Habitat’s headquarters assisting with Team Leader trainings.

Global Village is a special program of Habitat for Humanity when individuals or whole groups travel to remote destinations throughout the world to construct simple, decent homes alongside needy partner families.

In Macedonia the program started two years ago, and so far hosted 11 teams. Margaret played a key role in successfully coordinating the volunteer flow during last building season, especially in situations with overlapping teams.

After the time was up in Macedonia, Margaret set off to Thailand, without even a day of rest in between, to join thousands of volunteers in Mekong region as part of the annual week-long Jimmy Carter Work Project.

This year, Habitat for Humanity’s Europe and Central Asia office recognized three volunteers for their commitment to the mission of fighting poverty housing throughout the world. Margaret Yankowski was one of them.

Chris Fontanesi from the US is the second volunteer to get a Habitat award. He has been a dynamic member of the Habitat team in Romania, hosting many events from EuroHabitat in 2007 and two-day Ambassadors Build in the Roma community in 2009.

The third distinguished volunteer is Jan Bodewes from the Netherlands. In the period between 2001and 2009, he has gone on 10 trips to various locations from the Philippines to Ghana and Guatemala. In 2005, Jan was on the team of first builders in Asia after the disastrous Tsunami.

Over the years, Jan has contributed to the programs almost €105,000 in Global Village donations and raised €8,600 in extra funds to support projects in Zambia. In his town he is a celebrity, as local papers always run stories about his recent volunteering trips.

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 Middle East and Africa 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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