Europe & Central Asia featured program: Macedonia
Global Village trip participants will serve in Veles, located in the heart of Macedonia. Veles is an enchanting place for lovers of history, with its many artifacts from numerous archeological sites dating as far back as 70,000 years. The city is also famous for its poetry, culture, history and tradition.
Macedonia has been going through political and economic transition under circumstances unusual for most Eastern European countries. Although it was the only former Yugoslav republic to gain independence peacefully, its transition from a centrally planned structure into a market economy has been ridden with problems.
The change from a heavy reliance on subsidies to the logic of the free market in the 1990s led to rigid urban planning and significant deterioration of urban services in Macedonia. Consequently, the number of new dwellings completed per year dropped substantially. In response, the price of housing rose beyond what many families could afford.
Since average families cannot afford to buy new homes, many younger families live in their parents’ houses. The average age of buildings in Macedonia is about 30 years; due to the poor maintenance, most are in need of immediate reconstruction/renovation.
As a consequence of long-lasting instability, Macedonia’s national income dropped substantially. Unemployment has risen significantly, leading to a sharp fall in family incomes and a general rise in poverty levels. Macedonia’s unemployment rate is among the highest in Europe, reaching 36 percent in 2004. The number of people living below the national poverty level has exceeded 25 percent.
The Roma population in Macedonia has a clear housing need. Roma families very often live in very poorly built substandard homes, in which they do not have appropriate water supply or sewerage connection. The houses of the Roma are small, planned for providing for the basic living needs. For more than 50 percent of this population group, there is less than 5 square meters of living space per family member. As much as 77 percent of the families have their sanitary facility (or outdoor toilet) in the yard, and 58 percent use water from a tap installed outside the house. Furthermore, almost 10 percent of the Roma population has no access to drinking water and other daily hygiene needs, and it is estimated that about 50 percent of these families don’t have appropriate solutions for sewage and the discharge of communal waters from their homes.
In January 2003, a group of committed people from all over Macedonia expressed a willingness to start a Habitat for Humanity program in Macedonia. Inspired by Habitat’s mission and ready to contribute their values, experience and time to help those in need, Habitat for Humaity Macedonia officially became an national program in June 2004.
In partnership with a local microfinance institution, Habitat for Humanity Macedonia established a Home Improvement Fund that provides micro-loans for reconstruction and renovation of the substandard housing in Macedonia.
More than 240 partner families are already beneficiaries from the Home Improvement Fund. Habitat for Humanity Macedonia has also partnered with another microfinance organization, Horizonti, to provide 50 small loans to the most vulnerable groups of people in Macedonia. The maximum loan is up to 1,700 Euros, with up to 30 months to repay the loan.
The principal type of need Habitat for Humanity Macedonia is addressing is for reconstruction and renovation of the existing dwellings, especially with low-income families that are unable to improve their living conditions. Habitat for Humanity Macedonia offers the working poor decent and affordable housing solutions.
Types of construction for volunteers
Volunteers may work on new duplex construction.
Teams will fly to Skopje. Teams will be driven to Veles by Habitat staff.
Hotels are simple and basic and typically located near the project site. Rooms sleep two people and include a private bathroom. All facilities are screened by Habitat staff to ensure that they are safe, clean and well-maintained.
Food and water
Breakfast is served at the hotel. Lunch is catered by a local restaurant and served on the work site. Dinner is served at local restaurants in Veles and Skopje.
Hosting structure and services
Habitat Macedonia hosting staff can be reached via e-mail, and is available to answer any questions prior to the trip. A Habitat staff person will accompany the team as long as is necessary.
Itineraries are balanced with plenty of work, rest and free time. Hosting staff in Macedonia offers teams a warm welcome to their community and encourage teams to visit local cultural treasures.
10-day itinerary (A 14-day itinerary is also an option for U.S. teams.)
Day 1 (Typically Saturday): Depart for Macedonia.
Day 2 (Sunday): Arrival in Skopje, Macedonia; travel to Veles; welcome and orientation with Habitat host program staff member; dinner.
Days 3–5 (Monday–Wednesday, Work days): Work from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. with lunch on-site; free time after work to clean up; Dinner in local restaurants; Time for team activities.
Day 6 (Thursday, Free day): Cultural activity
Days 7–8(Friday–Saturday, Workdays): Work from 8 a.m.-5 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., as well as a walking tour of host city and farewell dinner.
Day 9 (Sunday): Travel to Skopje; free time; final team dinner.
Day 10 (Monday): Departure day.
Starting At $1,530 (10-day) -$1,750(14-day)
View the standard budget.
8 - 30 volunteers
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.