From the Porto airport we’ll travel by private bus to Braga, Portugal’s third-largest city (population around 200,000). The city is known for its Roman history and churches. We’ll have plenty of tourism opportunities on the side! Our focus, of course, will be on building and re-habbing homes. The work will often be hard, but deeply rewarding, because we’ll labor alongside some great people, local and “imported,” and learn what it means to be part of a “Global Village.”
Habitat started working in Braga in 1996, and the local affilliate has hosted many Global Village trips since then. We may be working in Braga proper, or in a nearby municipality. We’re more likely to be doing rehab work than new construction.
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.
Braga is situated in the northwestern part of the country and has been an important trading center since recorded times. In the 12th century, it became Portugal’s spiritual center and the home of the Catholic Church. Numerous cathedrals, buildings and relics testify to Braga’s religious significance. Modern Braga is also known for its unique handicrafts and delectable gastronomy. Wandering through the streets of Braga, you will find excellent pottery and wooden miniatures, but the city’s most characteristic handicraft is cavaquinho, or four-string baby viola, still manufactured in the traditional way.
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. The work will likely involve most of the following: mixing cement, chain-ganging block, wheelbarrowing mortar, sifting sand, moving foundation stones, digging trenches, tying rebar, etc.
Day 1 (typically Saturday): Depart for Portugal.
Day 2 (Sunday): Arrive in Porto, Portugal; travel to Braga; 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): Travel to Porto; 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.
Chris Goodrich has led or co-led Global Village teams to El Salvador, Honduras, India, Mexico, Kenya, Bolivia, Vietnam, Ghana and the Dominican Republic, and has [participated in GV trips to Guatemala and Paraguay. Chris has also participated in two Jimmy Carter Work Projects, including Durban, South Africa, in 2002. He is the author of four books, including one on Habitat entitled “Faith is a Verb,” and lives in Connecticut. When not traveling, he teaches, writes, volunteers and gives his three children (17, 19 and 22) a hard time for not catching, yet, the GV spirit.
Interested participants should contact Chris firstname.lastname@example.org at or leave a phone message at 805-203-8183.