Europe and Central Asia featured program: Hungary
—Simon Beatty, Global Village volunteer
Located in Central Europe’s Carpathian Basin, Hungary has connected the East to the West for thousands of years. It shares political borders with Austria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Ukraine. The landscape is mostly flat with low mountains on the Slovakian border.
Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is often described as the “Little Paris of Central Europe.” The city is situated on the river Danube and has more than 1.8 million inhabitants, a fifth of the country’s population. The city has many things to offer: beautiful historic buildings; museums; coffee houses; churches; synagogues; Turkish baths; healing spas and Roman ruins; fine restaurants; high-quality opera and classical music, as well as Gypsy/Roma, Klezmer and jazz music; and folk dancing.
Hungary has a temperate climate. The summers are warm and the winters are cold with a considerable amount of snow.
According to the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, 1.2 million people in the country live in overcrowded conditions. Multiple families frequently share single-room apartments. Out of the almost 4 million homes in Hungary, more than 400,000 lack a water pipeline. Many homes have no sewage systems, and some 670,000 lack a flush toilet.
A large segment of Hungarians fall through the cracks of government and social support. There are those in Hungary who live in third-world poverty and those who cannot afford regular monthly repayment for housing or utilities.
In 2010, more than 1 million people were living in households unable to properly heat their homes during winter for financial reasons. The financial crisis has also resulted in recession and a very high inflation in Hungary. People experience an increase of prices of food and services day by day. In these difficult times, there is a great need for help.
Since Habitat for Humanity Hungary’s founding in 1996, they have helped 198 Hungarian families obtain a decent place to live. Currently, Habitat for Humanity Hungary builds homes in Vác, Csepel, Dunavarsány, Göd and Csurgó, with ongoing building projects in Szarvas and Hajdúböszörmény.
In addition to their new construction program, Habitat for Humanity Hungary also has a repair and renovation program for families who cannot afford to maintain their existing homes. Some of the projects in the repair program include upgrading doors and windows, fixing roofs, changing sections of walls and adding bathrooms. Often these projects improve energy efficiency, leading to reduced environmental impact and lower energy bills for the homeowners.
You can learn more about Habitat for Humanity Hungary at habitat.hu.
Hosting structure and services
Habitat for Humanity Hungary hosting staff can be reached via email and are available to answer any questions prior to the trip. Hosting staff contact information is dependent upon the project destination. A Habitat staff person will accompany the team and will serve as a translator.
Itineraries are balanced with plenty of work, rest and free time. Hosting staff in Hungary offers teams a “backdoor” welcome to their community and encourage teams to visit local cultural treasures.
Team members experience great personal growth through cultural and linguistic challenges and return to their home countries transformed. Lasting relationships with fellow team members and local people are created, and they gain a greater understanding of the effects of poverty housing.
Vác area (Greater Budapest area)
Fuel Poverty Program: This project focuses on energy efficiency problems for families who do not have the financial means to repair/improve their homes.
Typical volunteer tasks:
Typical tasks for the renovation project include: installing insulation on walls, plastering, sanding, rolling fiberglass insulation in the attic, insulating and painting windows and painting walls.
Teams Arrive at Ferihegy International Airport in Budapest and travel by minibus to the project location.
Both long-distance and daily transport to and from the hotel is typically in a15-person private minibus with a hired driver.
Breakfast and dinner: Served in the hotel or a local restaurant.
Lunch: Served on the work site.
Water: Tap water is not sanitary to drink in Hungary. Purified, bottled water and bottled juices are provided throughout the day.
Hotels are simple and basic and typically located near the project site. Each room sleeps two to three people and includes a private bathroom, though bathrooms are occasionally shared. All facilities are screened by HFH staff to ensure that everything is safe, clean and well-maintained.
10-day itinerary (A 14-day itinerary is also an option for U.S. teams.)
Day 1 (typically Saturday): Depart for Hungary.
Day 2 (Sunday): Arrive in Budapest, Hungary; welcome and orientation with Habitat Hungary national office staff member; dinner; overnight in Budapest.
Day 3 (Monday): Travel to host program; welcome and orientation with Habitat host program; dinner.
Days 4–8 (Tuesday–Saturday, workdays): Breakfast served before traveling to work site; work from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. with lunch on site; free time after work to clean up; dinner in local restaurants; time for team activities. Special events throughout the week include cultural experiences with host program staff, such as market tours, museum visits, etc.; walking tour of host city; farewell dinner.
Day 9 (Sunday): Travel to Budapest; free time; final team dinner.
Day 10 (Monday): Departure day.
$1,720-$1,920 (10 day) $2,020-$2,220 (14 day)
View the standard budget.
Volunteer Engagement specialist
If you have read the FAQs and have further questions before you submit a Global Village trip proposal, please contact Europe and Central Asia volunteer engagement specialist Joe Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-HABITAT , ext. 7980