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Amarante, Portugal

October 4, 2014 to October 12, 2014

Volunteer in Portugal! I am seeking nine adventurous individuals, eager to build a home for a deserving family. You will work alongside volunteers from home and abroad digging foundations, laying bricks and more in Amarante, Portugal. There’s no construction experience necessary, simply a willingness to work hard and an openness to new experiences Go beyond sightseeing by helping a wonderful family achieve the dream of a decent, affordable home.

About 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.

About Amarante
Amarante is situated along the banks of the Tâmega River. The town’s impressive 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 bridge, travelers can stroll along the riverbank, which eventually leads to a number of cafés. In the historical center of town, the famous St. Gonçalo Church is one of the area’s most significant national monuments.

Taking place on the first Saturday and Sunday in June, the annual Festa de São Gonçalo is among the most colorful fairs in Portugal. St. Gonçalo remains as a highly praised and respected figure amongst the northern Portuguese population and is honored every year with an emblematic religious/folklore festival, showing Amarante’s profound connection with the Catholic religion and customs.

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

Types of construction for volunteers
Volunteers may work on single-family home and apartment renovation and repair projects.

Standard itinerary
(10-day itinerary)

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.

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

Build a better world: Take the Global Village Challenge
Habitat for Humanity International is challenging Global Village volunteers to make an even greater impact on the global issue of poverty housing. We are asking all GV teams to help us raise an additional $1.1 million in the coming year to support Habitat’s building projects worldwide. Take up the challenge! Join us in sharing our story and building a better world!

Team leader
Chris Sebilia has traveled with Habitat to Thailand, Honduras, Haiti and Bolivia. He enjoys the tangible experience of building coupled with the amazing opportunity to meet people from around the world. Chris continues to volunteering leading trips because Habitat Global Village is more than a vacation. It’s an opportunity to give back.

In his free time, Chris enjoys rock climbing, improv comedy and writing.

If you are interested in applying for the trip or learning more, please email Chris at

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

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