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Veles, Macedonia

August 30, 2013 to September 8, 2013

Join us in Macedonia for an unforgettable and life-changing service opportunity. On this trip, you will help build homes for local families, learn about Veles’ fascinating history and become immersed in its rich culture. If you are open to new experiences and willing to get a little dirty, consider joining this group for what will no doubt be a rewarding and eye-opening experience. No construction skills are required.

About Macedonia
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.

The Roma population in Macedonia has clear housing need. Roma families very often live in very poorly built substandard homes, in which they don’t 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 sewerage and the discharge of communal waters from their homes.

Global Village trip participants will serve in Veles, which lies in the heart of Macedonia and is at the crossroads of three rivers: the Topolka, Babuna and the Vardar. Veles remains an enchanting place for lovers of history with its many artifacts from numerous archeological sites dating as far back as 70,000 years. Nowadays, Veles is a leader in the implementation of informational technology in the local administration in Macedonia. Veles is a city of poetry, culture, history and tradition.

About Habitat for Humanity Macedonia
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 Macedonia officially became an HFH national program in June 2004.

A major project was launched in early spring 2005 and demonstrates Habitat Macedonia’s innovation and commitment to providing a hand-up to people in this region. In partnership with a local microfinance institution, HFH Macedonia has established a Home Improvement Fund that provides micro-loans for reconstruction and renovation of the substandard housing in Macedonia.

Two hundred-forty partner families are already beneficiaries from the Home Improvement Fund. HFH Macedonia has recently 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 HFH Macedonia is addressing is for reconstruction and renovation of the existing dwelling stock, especially with low income families that were unable to improve their living conditions. Habitat Macedonia offers the working poor, often forgotten in this region, partnership that can help them find decent and affordable housing solution and change lives.

Types of construction for volunteers
Volunteers may work on the construction of new duplex units or on rehab projects.

Standard itinerary
10-day itinerary

Day 1 (Typically Saturday): Depart the United States.
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): Breakfast served before traveling to work site; 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, work days): Breakfast served before traveling to work site; work from 8a.m.-5p.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, walking tours, etc. Farewell dinner on day 8.
Day 9 (Sunday): Travel to Skopje; free time; final team dinner.
Day 10 (Monday): Departure day.

Hotels are simple and basic and are located in the nearby town of Negotino. Team members will share double-occupnacy rooms with a private bathroom. All facilities are screened by HFH staff to ensure that they are safe, clean and well maintained.

Program cost
(For more details about what is included in this cost, visit Global Village program cost.)

Increase your impact: Take the GV Challenge
Habitat for Humanity is accelerating its work to end poverty housing, and we need Global Village teams to help. Set a goal and fundraise to make your impact last longer than the days you’re in the field. Your support builds more homes, creates resource centers, educates families, and advances our projects to build sustainable communities. We’ll even provide tools to make fundraising easy. Take the GV Challenge – join us in sharing our story and building a better world.

Team leader
Andrina (AJ) Ong lives in San Francisco and has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity since 2007. She enjoys traveling, cooking, working out, sports, playing volleyball and watching Notre Dame Football. AJ has traveled extensively throughout the world and speaks several languages. This will be AJ’s fifth Global Village trip as a trip leader.

With a strong interest in learning about cultures and meeting new people, AJ looks forward to forming a diverse Habitat team and helping to create a lifetime of memories for everyone on the team and for the families that we serve.

For more information on this exciting Global Village adventure to Macedonia, please contact AJ by email at

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

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