Make a new Thanksgiving custom—express gratitude for what makes your life rich by sharing it with a family as we work on their house. We’ll set a goal and see it accomplished, so our project will be rewarding. It doesn’t hurt that we’ll do it in a place as beautiful as Portugal.
Portugal is situated on the west side of the Iberian Peninsula, bordering Spain. It became an independent kingdom in 1143, and it is one of the oldest existent nations in Europe. It was the Portuguese sailors who, in the 15th century, discovered the ocean routes to India, Brazil, China and Japan, changing the way people understood the world around them.
Amarante is situated along the banks of the Tâmega River. The city of Amarante offers stunning views of the Marao Mountain range, as well as several places to visit, shop and eat. The town's historic center is also home to the famous St. Goncalo Church and the St. Goncalo Bridge, both of which are popular national monuments to visit.
The bridge, built in 1790, was the scene of heroic resistance in 1809 by the people of Amarante, who fought off French Marshall Soult’s advance for 14 days before his army advanced and burnt down their houses. Below the St. Goncalo Bridge, travelers can stroll along the riverbank or enjoy the views from one of several cafes.
About Habitat for Humanity Portugal
Housing is a major concern for Portuguese families, with 65 percent of the population living in dilapidated housing and 8.5 percent in shacks. One of the biggest challenges of HFH Portugal is a common dependency on government subsidies. The Governmental Social Housing program has been relatively effective in re-housing families that were living in poor conditions. However, support for the families that have been relocated does not exist. Social problems such as alcoholism, illiteracy, exclusion, lack of basic care and the creation of “social ghettos” are not solved with this kind of assistance. Only by promoting community-building and inclusiveness, and through educational and social programs, is it possible to break this poverty cycle.
Poverty housing in Portugal is spread throughout the country, with two distinctive kinds of housing: “hidden poverty” (typical Portuguese houses with a small orchard that hides the poor housing conditions) and the obvious shacks of the big cities. Since the 1970s, Portugal has been the destination country for immigrants from the former Portuguese colonies and Brazil and more recently, for immigrants from former Soviet Union countries. Thus, the need for housing is growing, especially in the urban areas of the country.
The first Habitat house in Portugal was built in 1999 in the town of Vieira do Minho. The following year, HFH Braga began to build in Palmeira and Cunha, and has served 28 families as of October 2008. In 2002, the organization began to renovate and repair existing homes and apartments and continues to find ways to serve more families. Learn more about Habitat Portugal at www.assoc-habitat.pt.
Types of construction for volunteers
Volunteers may work on single-family home and apartment renovation and repair projects.
Day 1 (typically Saturday): Depart for Portugal.
Day 2 (Sunday): Arrive in Porto, Portugal; travel to Amarante; welcome and orientation with Habitat host program staff member; dinner.
Days 3–8 Work days (Monday–Saturday): 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; team activities. Note: 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. Note: Thursday can be an optional cultural activity day or work day.
Day 9 (Sunday): Free time; final team dinner.
Day 10 (Monday): Departure day.
Hotels are simple and basic, and typically located near the project site. The team will stay in double-occupancy rooms with a private bathroom. All facilities are screened by HFH staff to ensure that they are safe, clean and well maintained.
(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.
Heather Ewing is an experienced traveler, having spent the most time in Peru and Bolivia. She believes in Habitat’s mission so strongly that she works at Habitat now and previously worked two years at Habitat Guatemala. Living in Georgia currently by way of Toronto and New England, she spends time prying tennis balls out of her dog’s mouth, watching documentaries, cooking Indian food and doing yoga. Get in touch with Heather at HewingGV@gmail.com