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Volunteering in Europe and Central Asia: What comes next?

At this special time of the year, when everyone is welcoming a new spring, Habitat is happy to share a few milestones for its Europe and Central Asia volunteering program. It is also the beginning of the active volunteering season in the region when individuals or groups travel to work on home building alongside local families.

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Global Village volunteering program in Europe and Central Asia works actively with schools and universities.

Since the launch of the Global Village international volunteer program in Europe and Central Asia in 1996, over 10,500 volunteers have built with partner families, bringing joy and hope to over 1,000 families from Portugal to Kyrgyzstan and from Poland to Armenia. More than 700 teams have traveled to work with families and communities, contributing more than five million U.S. dollars to the home building programs in ten countries.

Still the need is overwhelming. In Tajikistan, Macedonia and Armenia the urban poverty rate remains over 50 percent. Almost 40 percent of the condominium buildings in Romania alone are in need of major renovation. In Kyrgyzstan, only 16 percent of the rural population has access to clean drinking water, and six million Poles live in substandard housing conditions.

The litany of statistics and severity of the housing situation in this largely diverse area can go on and on. However, the question one needs to ask is, “What comes next?” How can an individual be the change he or she wishes to see in the world? What can one contribute to eliminate poverty housing?

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A group of international volunteers in front of the home they were helping to complete in Armenia

Habitat invites everyone to go on a volunteering trip through its Global Village program in Armenia, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Northern Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Tajikistan to bring joy to a family’s life. There are many ways to be involved with more than 20 communities across the region, from forming your own team of friends to engaging your school, church or work colleagues in a Global Village trip, or simply volunteering as an individual.

Besides the actual work on the build sites next to the homeowner families, the Global Village experience offers a unique insight into the local culture as volunteers are hosted by the community and guided by local volunteers.

As one Habitat volunteers says, “Building a house is like building your own life. You start by working at your foundation and you realize that it is hard work. After a while, circumstances and other things come in your way and the master starts building. He builds us so we can build other people’s lives.”

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Volunteering with Habitat is not only about hard work at the construction. It offers insights into local culture.

Let us all be the change we wish to see in the world, a world where everyone has a simple and decent place to live.

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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