Do you have passion for both helping others and environmental sustainability? Join our team working on an eco friendly house in a village outside of Poznon, Poland. The house will be constructed with emphasis on using locally procured, natural materials which have low environmental impact. Materials will include wood, stone and clay and straw blocks. The house has been designed so that volunteers can do most of the construction. Specific tasks are hard to predict until closer to the trip time. What can be predicted, though, is that you will be joining a hardworking, enthusiastic and fun team. In addition to helping a family obtain their dream of decent housing, we will enjoy local scenery, food, music and cultural activities. A sense of adventure, flexibility and a willingness to work are all that is required. Building experience is not required.
Poland is located in Central Europe, east of Germany, and also shares borders with Belarus, Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, Russia, Slovakia and the Ukraine. Poland is primarily flat, with mountains along its southern border. The climate in Poland is temperate, with cold, snowy winters and mild summers with frequent rain.
The team will visit and explore Poznań, the capital of Wielkopolska county. Poznan is one of the oldest towns in Poland. Extended by the first Polish rulers, Mieszko I and Boleslav the Brave, it was the capital city in the 10th and 11th centuries. The first cathedral was founded in 986 on Tumski Island. Pride of place in the cathedral is given to the Mieszko I tomb and the enormous Gothic altar dating from 1512.
In the Old Market Square, the majority of buildings date back to the 15th century. The Town Hall, founded in the 13th century and later extended in Renaissance style, has one of the most precious Renaissance interiors in Northern Europe. Visit St. Martin Street, which has a monument commemorating victims of the Poznań Spring of 1956 – the first revolt against the communist regime in Poland.
Poznan is also a place where varied nations such as Poles, Germans, Jews and even Italians lived together. Bambergs from Frankonia (currently: northern Bavaria), who settled in Poznan three hundred years ago, contributed to the local culture and customs. The tradition of Greater Poland is still present in Poznań. The visitors may listen to the Poznań dialect in streets, and try local traditional foods.
The name of the city has its origins from the Polish “to meet someone” because it has been a gathering place throughout its history. The city hosts Poland’s largest trade fairs, and being halfway between Warsaw and Berlin, it has been a crossroads of cultures throughout history. The combination of international business travelers attending its numerous trade fairs and the city’s huge student population has created a distinctive vibe quite independent of tourism. In addition to its energetic personality, Poznań offers also many historical attractions in its center and surroundings.
Poland joined the European Union in 2004 but, as a former member of the Eastern Bloc, Poland continues to deal with the legacy left by communist economic and social policies. Despite tremendous reforms, overcrowded and damp housing without proper sanitation is still the reality for many of Poland’s low-income working families. These families are often forgotten behind the walls of aging Soviet-style apartment building blocks.
Economic Housing Institute research indicates that almost one in four apartments in Poland should be condemned. Of the existing housing stock, approximately one in eight do not have a kitchen, and almost one in ten share a toilet with an entire floor of apartments or have no indoor facility at all. With a severe affordable housing shortage, low-income families often have no choice but to live in substandard housing that threatens their health and safety.
About Habitat for Humanity Poland
Habitat for Humanity’s work in Poland dates back to 1992 in the town of Gliwice.
Multi-family units have been the centerpiece of Habitat’s work in Poland. These buildings are built to withstand Poland’s harsh winters, while allowing plenty of sun and fresh air in spring and summer. The buildings have wooden roofs and cement foundations. The walls are made of lightweight cellular blocks chosen because they provide good thermal insulation, a solid structure and easy handling.
Families have 20 years to pay off their no-interest loan, through monthly mortgage payments equal to roughly US$140. This amount is much less than the cost of the few bank loans currently available in Poland. In addition to the simple, decent housing that these apartments provide, many also share a small garden or play area for the children, creating a strong sense of community among the homeowners.
Poland is also an active player in the fight for a Polish housing legislation that would have the government address the issues of poverty housing in the country. HFH Poland built a coalition with different NGOs, housing experts, institutions related to housing, and started an awareness campaign on housing poverty.
Types of construction for volunteers
Volunteers will work on apartment and home renovation projects. The tasks will vary depending on the stage of construction.
Day 1 (Typically Friday): Depart the U.S. or other home country.
Day 2 (Saturday): Arrive in Warsaw, Poland; overnight in hotel; team dinner.
Day 3(Sunday): Travel to host program; welcome and orientation with Habitat host program staff member; dinner.
Day 4-9 (Work days, Monday-Saturday): Breakfast served before traveling to work site; work from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. with lunch on-site; free time after work to clean up; dinner in local restaurants; free time for team activities.
Note: Special events held throughout the week, such as cultural experiences with host program staff, market tours, museum visits, etc; walking tour of host city; farewell dinner and closing ceremony on final day at work site.
Day 10 (Sunday): Travel to Warsaw, Poland; free time; final team dinner.
Day 11 (Monday): Departure day.
Hotels are simple and basic, and typically located near the project site. The team will stay in double-occupancy rooms with private bath. The team will spend the first and last nights at a hotel in Warsaw. All facilities are screened by Habitat staff to ensure that they are safe, clean and well maintained.
Breakfast is typically served at the hotel; lunch at the work site; dinner in a local restaurant. Water and snacks will be provided each day.
(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.
Jolene Hartwick has participated in seven previous Global Village builds. Three were in Central America, three in Europe and one in Nepal. Poland will be her fourth trip as a leader. A lifelong Minnesota gardener, she’s going to hate missing the garden’s last of the season tomatoes, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work on a Habitat project that has a focus on being environmentally friendly. For more information, please contact Jolene at firstname.lastname@example.org