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February 13, 2010 to February 26, 2010

Ready to work as part of a fun, diverse, flexible team? Want to learn more about poverty around the globe and what you can do to make an impact? Eager to put your compassion into action? Excited for the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of a new place? Join us in Ethiopia! No construction experience is required—only an open mind, flexibility and a desire to work hard. Change your world; change your life!


A typical shack made of scrap metal and wood in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Ethiopia country profile

About Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a land of dramatic variations—from lush mountain highlands to low-lying deserts to one of the highest peaks on the African continent. The Nile River winds its way through this country in the Horn of Africa before flowing to the Mediterranean Sea. Ethiopia’s Rift Valley has even been called the “cradle of mankind,” due to the discoveries of large numbers of hominid fossils there.

Unfortunately, Ethiopia is also one of the poorest countries in the world, with the majority of its population leading destitute lives and living in poverty housing. A recent United Nations survey ranked the country Number 169 (out of 175) in quality of life. Ethiopia’s problems are mainly attributed to frequent famine, civil conflicts, political turmoil and foreign aggression.

About Habitat for Humanity Ethiopia
Habitat for Humanity Ethiopia began construction in 1993 and has since expanded to build houses in 11 communities. Most houses are in urban and semi-urban areas within a 250-mile radius of the capital city, Addis Ababa. HFHE has attempted to integrate its operations with those of community-based organizations in order to be more effective in its work.

There is a great need for simple, decent and affordable housing in Ethiopia. HFHE defines substandard housing as a home with dirt floors, leaking roof and lack of sanitation. A staggering 90 percent of the population has no access to decent sanitation facilities, and 73 percent of the population does not have safe drinking water, causing disease to run rampant.

The vast majority of Ethiopians must improvise with housing that is cramped and unable to protect them from bad weather, insects and diseases. Substandard housing has an adverse effect on health, the education of children, job performance and overall quality of life. Rodents and poor sanitation create a breeding ground for bacteria. Fires burning inside a poorly ventilated home cause respiratory diseases. Collapsing walls and poor protection from weather and insects can be a daily battle for many Ethiopians, who have a small chance of improving their situations without assistance.

Types of construction for volunteers
Your participation is vital to HFHE’s ministry. Volunteer manual labor helps the national program to reduce house costs by 10–20 percent for partner families. Similarly, expensive labor-saving equipment is absent.

HFHE’s houses vary from 22 to 36 square meters in size and are built from a number of different materials, including stabilized soil blocks, hollow concrete blocks and fired bricks. HFHE also constructs improved traditional style “chika” houses, which are built mostly of wood, soil, sand and stone. All houses have a latrine in a separate block and are built in such a manner that families can add further rooms in the future.

Typical work for a GV team is to assist homeowners and local volunteers in building the houses. Work may include: mixing mortar and concrete; carrying construction materials; fixing chicken wires; digging foundations; making bricks and carrying water.

Standard itinerary
(14-day itinerary)

Day 1, typically Saturday: Depart for Ethiopia.
Day 2, Sunday: Arrive in Addis Ababa; dinner and overnight in Addis Ababa.
Day 3, Monday: Breakfast at hotel; travel to host project site; welcome and orientation with local staff and dinner with homeowner families.
Days 4–8, Tuesday–Saturday: Breakfast served before traveling to work site; work from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. with lunch on site; free time in the evenings; dinner; team activities.
Day 9, Sunday: Visit a local church and enjoy other cultural activities.
Days 10–12, Monday–Wednesday: Breakfast served before traveling to work site; work from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. with lunch on site; free time in the evenings; dinner; team activities. Farewell celebration on day 12 with homeowner families.
Day 13, Thursday: Travel to Addis Ababa; free time; dinner and overnight.
Day 14, Friday: Depart for home.

Note: There will be other opportunities for cultural activities in the evenings, during free time and during days off.

Accommodations vary depending on project location. Teams will spend their first and last nights at a hotel in Addis Ababa. At the project location, GV teams will stay in simple lodging, often sharing rooms and bathrooms.

All three meals and bottled water will be provided each day.

Trip cost
Trip cost includes: donation to the Habitat host program and HFHI; meals; accommodations; transport (excluding trip participant air fare); medical emergency evacuation and trip cancellation insurance; some local cultural activities and team coordination and orientation materials. The team leader’s trip cost and estimated air fare may be included in the trip budget. The trip cost does not include trip participant air fare, R&R activities or visa and exit fees (not applicable for all destinations).

Team leader
Shelly Whittet is excited for her fourth Global Village adventure! She has led two high school teams to Guatemala and one adult team to Armenia. As a writer and editor for Habitat for Humanity International, Shelly is lucky to spend much of her time supporting Habitat’s mission, but deeply enjoys the opportunity to contribute on the work site and share Habitat’s work with others through Global Village.

Shelly is a proud Badger (University of Wisconsin 2006, Journalism B.A.) and spent a year serving in the southeast United States with AmeriCorps*National Civilian Community Corps. She looks forward to bringing her knowledge of Habitat, desire to learn and passion for service to this GV Ethiopia team.

For more information about the trip, please to contact Shelly at

Please include trip destination, dates and team leader name on your application if you would like to apply specifically for this trip.

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

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