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Várpalota, Hungary

September 26–October 9

Do you want to make a difference in someone’s life? Do you have enthusiasm, a willingness to work as part of a team and a desire to experience a different culture? This could be the experience you have been waiting for! You will have the opportunity to live and work in a small town in Hungary, experiencing the language, food and culture as well as the people’s warmth and friendliness.

About Várpalota
Várpalota is a town of 21,371 people in Central Hungary, 100 kilometers from Budapest. The town’s history goes back to Roman times, and it was an important fortress in the middle ages. In modern times, Várpalota has been known as a mining and industrial town. The mines and factories of Várpalota closed, however, by the end of the 1990s. The breakdown of the local economy resulted in high unemployment. Those who had migrated to Várpalota from other parts of the country in search of work were especially affected; they had no social network in town to rely on. Most of the homeless population in Várpalota belongs to this group. Also, economic problems caused extreme stress for many families, and often this resulted in divorce. Husbands moved out of their apartments, which lead to their homelessness.

Fortunately, Várpalota is surrounded by agricultural land, which provides employment for some. Most local people commute to nearby Székesfehérvár or Veszprém for work.

About Habitat for Humanity Hungary
HFH Hungary was founded in 1996, when former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and more than 500 volunteers built 10 homes within one week in Vac. Since then, Habitat for Humanity has helped 198 families have a decent place to live. Habitat for Humanity Hungary is also involved in a repairs and renovations program for families who cannot afford to maintain their existing homes. According to the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, 1.2 million people in the country live in overcrowded conditions. Single-room apartments are frequently shared by multiple families. Out of the almost 4 million homes in Hungary, over 400,000 lack a water pipeline. Many homes have no sewerage system, and 670,000 lack a flush toilet.

A large segment of Hungarians fall through the cracks of government and social support. There are those in Hungary who live in third-world poverty, who cannot afford regular monthly payments for housing or utilities.

A great part of the need for Habitat for Humanity Hungary’s individual repair projects stems from the high inflation of the 1990s; home maintenance costs grew in that decade from 10 percent of the average Hungarian family’s income to about 50 percent, rendering many low-income families unable to maintain their homes. Habitat for Humanity Hungary addresses common maintenance problems, such as upgrading doors and windows, fixing roofs, updating sections of walls and adding bathrooms. Often these projects improve energy efficiency, leading to reduced environmental impact and lower energy bills for the homeowners.

Learn more about HFH Hungary at

Types of construction for volunteers
Habitat for Humanity Hungary is constantly searching for new ways to reach people in need. A project starting Fall 2009 will target the most vulnerable group affected by poverty housing: the homeless.

HFH Hungary will work with the Red Cross to install a new facility in the attic of a homeless shelter in Várpalota, West-Hungary. The shelter has been working for eleven years, and it can accommodate 80 people per day. In order to address the shelter’s need to increase their capacity, a new wing for women will be built in the attic.

The new unit will accommodate 20 women. The renovation will start in September, and it is anticipated to be complete by the end of October.

Standard itinerary
(14-day itinerary)

Day 1 (typically Saturday):
Depart for Hungary.
Day 2 (Sunday):
Arrive in Budapest, Hungary; welcome and orientation with Habitat Hungary national office staff member; dinner; overnight in Budapest.
Day 3 (Monday):
Day tour of Budapest. Travel to Hajduboszormeny; welcome and orientation with Habitat host program; dinner.
Days 4–8 (Tuesday–Saturday, workdays):
Breakfast served before traveling to work site; work from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. with lunch on site. Free time after work to clean up; dinner in local restaurants; time for team activities.
Day 9 (Sunday):
Free time; cultural activities in local community.
Days 10–12 (Monday–Wednesday, workdays):
Breakfast served before traveling to work site; work from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. with lunch on site. Free time after work to clean up; dinner in local restaurants; time for team activities. Farewell dinner on Day 12.
Day 13 (Thursday):
Travel to Budapest; free time; final team dinner.
Day 14 (Friday):
Departure day.

Most GV teams will stay in a hotel in Budapest and then in double-occupancy apartments at the project location. The apartments will include shared baths.

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
Gary Loos has been involved with his local Habitat affiliate for over 15 years. He has traveled to England, France, Italy, Mexico, Canada, Venezuela, the Caribbean and various parts of the United States. This will be Gary’s fifth Global Village trip to Hungary and his fourth as a team leader. The experience was so rewarding that he wanted to return and lead a team to see this charming town and meet its friendly people.

Gary says, “There is no experience required—just bring your enthusiasm and willingness to make a difference in the lives of others. I have seen, done and experienced things with Habitat that I never thought I would. I promise you that this experience will be among the most meaningful of your life.”

For questions or more information about this wonderful trip, contact Gary via e-mail at

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

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