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Mekong Big Build, Tien Giang, Vietnam

August 1, 2013 to August 10, 2013

In the past 20 years, an estimated 30 million Vietnamese people have been lifted out of poverty, according to the World Bank. But the remaining poor, especially ethnic minorities, face difficult challenges with limited assets, low education levels and poor health. Vietnam is also a disaster-prone country with frequent floods, droughts and typhoons affecting the livelihoods of the poor.

In Tien Giang province, located in the Mekong Delta region in southern Vietnam, many families are living in inadequate housing ― made of palm leaves and thatch, untreated wood and grasses ― which only last two to four years. Their meager income leaves them with little savings to make home improvements.

Therein lies the opportunity.

The Mekong Big Build will bring international Habitat volunteers and families together to build 25 new homes in Tien Giang. Habitat Vietnam will give priority to vulnerable groups such as female-headed households, children, the elderly and/or the disabled in providing decent homes with sanitation facilities. Habitat believes that a safe and decent home opens the doors to improved health, better performance in school, greater economic opportunities and increased community spirit.   

This is a groundbreaking chance for you to represent Team United States on this special build!

Mekong special build
Habitat Vietnam, with its local partners, will provide decent homes with sanitation facilities to  help low-income families break the cycle of poverty in Tien Giang province, south of Ho Chi Minh City. The province is affected by climate change and prone to disasters such as flooding and drought. For many families living from hand-to-mouth, they have hardly any money to make house repairs after disasters, let alone savings to build secure homes. In August 2013, their lives will change when the Mekong Big Build brings Habitat volunteers and families together to build 25 new homes. Tien Giang, which means “The River in Front”, is located in the Mekong Delta region in southern Vietnam. The province is divided into distinct fruit-growing, lowlands and coastal regions. 

The project aims to play a role in Vietnam’s achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Habitat believes that a decent home transforms lives and breaks the cycle of poverty, thus helping to meet the goal of poverty reduction.  Secure and healthy housing, combined with water and sanitation interventions, seeks to make a positive impact on maternal, child and community health.  Environmental sustainability is addressed by utilizing an innovative housing design that incorporates disaster-mitigating features and maximizes the use of sustainable resources.

About Habitat for Humanity Vietnam
Habitat Vietnam began operations in 2001 in Danang in the central coastal region of the country. HFH Vietnam serves families via new home construction, water and sanitation facilities, existing home repairs and improvements, assistance with obtaining secure land tenure and technical support. HFH Vietnam mobilizes resources (construction materials, labor and financing) to provide support to poor families who are willing to partner by physically participating in their home construction and paying towards the cost, typically through a microfinance loan.

In the last five years alone HFH Vietnam has built 445 brand new homes for families in need. Their next goal is to build—by June 30, 2016—an additional 263 new homes for families in need of adequate shelter. 

This is your chance to get on board to help achieve that goal! 

Why volunteer?
Aside from participating in Habitat’s mission of eliminating poverty housing this is an opportunity to see Vietnam in a very unique way. Participating in a special build not only exposes you to all the same wonders of a new country and the experience of working with a team, but also affords you the opportunity to connect with volunteers from other countries who also share your mission.

  • Enjoy a possible life-changing experience with a team of like-minded people.
  • Immerse all of your senses in a new world.
  • Experience Vietnam working alongside Vietnamese people.
  • Gain a new perspective on poverty in a another country.
  • Allow yourself to live in the moment, focused on a shared objective.
  • Grow your ability to love by asking your heart connect intimately with others.
  • Make Habitat’s mission a matter of conscience for everyone by sharing your motivation and experience with your friends and family.

Be a pioneer of HFH Vietnam’s effort to serve 150 families in five years. By bringing together hundreds of volunteers, rather than just a few, you will be able to help get more families into decent shelter sooner. This is a chance to connect with a community you might not otherwise ever meet and open doors to greater cultural understanding and empathy. Building homes brings hope!

Standard itinerary
(10 day itinerary)

Day 1 (Thursday, August 1): Depart for Vietnam.
Day 2 (Friday, August 2): Travel day.
Day 3 (Saturday, August 3): Arrive Ho Chi Minh City, free time, dinner.
Day 4 (Sunday, August 4): Free time and welcome dinner reception.
Days 5-9 (Monday–Friday, August 5-9): Breakfast at hotel, travel to site and work from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., lunch on-site, travel to hotel, free time, dinner.
Day 10 (Saturday, August 10): Depart Vietnam or post trip R & R.

Volunteers will enjoy special events throughout the week such as cultural exchanges with affiliate staff, market tours and historical site visits, and local church services. Teams typically stay in a local hotel with AC sharing double-occupancy rooms with a private bath. Breakfast will be taken at the hotel. Lunch will be on the work site and dinner usually eaten at area restaurants.

Program cost
(Because this is a special build intended to build many homes in just one week, the program costs are a bit higher. For more details about what is included in this cost, visit Global Village program cost and talk to your team leader.)

Take the Global Village Challenge
Habitat for Humanity International is challenging all GV teams to help raise an additional $1.1 million in the coming year to support Habitat’s building projects worldwide.  Taking up the challenge is fun and easier than you might think! Ask your team leader how to get started.

Team leader
Bill Fitzgerald is currently serving as a long-term volunteer in the Global Volunteer Engagement department of Habitat for Humanity International in Americus, Ga. Bill has lead ten Global Village build teams to Beius, Romania and in 2011, a team to Fiji. He co-lead a team of 42 volunteers to build on the Mongolian Blue Sky Build in July of 2012. He is very much looking forward to working with fellow team members in solidarity with the people of Viet Nam where together they will make an impact on the huge global issue of poverty housing.

To learn more about this exciting opportunity to be part of a special build project in Viet Nam, contact Bill at or call him on his cell at 847-870-7157.

To apply for a GV trip, please follow the Application Instructions.

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