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Braga, Portugal

November 28, 2009 to December 11, 2009

It is never too late to make a difference and create a positive impact in the world! Join Global Village for this extraordinary 14-day, cross-cultural experience and help build simple, decent and affordable houses in Braga, Portugal this winter. No previous constructions skills or experience is required—just a willingness to serve people in need of shelter.

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 nations in Europe. It was the Portuguese sailors who, in the 15th century, discovered 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 of 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. Sixty-five percent of the population lives in dilapidated housing, and 8.5 percent live 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 “social ghettos” are not solved by housing alone. Only through community-building and inclusiveness and educational and social programs, is it possible to break the cycle of poverty.

Poverty housing in Portugal is spread throughout the country, with two 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 new construction of single-family homes and renovation and repair of apartments and single-family homes

The homes are made of traditional Portuguese materials: bricks, red roof tiles, shutters on windows and ceramic tiles inside. They have two to three bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom and are between 66–108 square meters.

Standard itinerary
(14-day itinerary)

Saturday, November 28
: Depart for Portugal.
Sunday, November 29
: Arrive in Porto, Portugal; travel to Braga; welcome and orientation with Habitat host program staff member; dinner.
Monday–Saturday, November 30–December 5 (Workdays)
: 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 at 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. Thursday can be an optional cultural activity day or workday.
Sunday, December 6
: Free time; local cultural activities.
Monday–Wednesday, December 7–9 ( Workdays)
: 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.
Thursday, December 10
: Travel to Porto; free time; final team dinner.
Friday, December 11
: Departure day.

Hotels are simple and basic and typically located near the project site. Rooms sleep two people and include a private bathroom. All facilities are screened by HFH staff to ensure they are safe, clean and well-maintained.

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
Martha Alvarado has been with Habitat for Humanity International since 1996. She worked for the Africa and Middle East area for nine years; during those years, she lived in Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana and South Africa. Martha is currently based in the HFHI headquarters in Americus, Georgia, where she works for the Development department as corporate partners coordinator, Special Initiatives. She has broad experience working with diverse groups and is fluent in English, Spanish and Swahili. This will be her third trip as team leader; she has led two Global Village trips to Romania and Poland.

For more information regarding this trip please contact Martha via e-mail at

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

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