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Veles, Macedonia

May 28, 2011 to June 6, 2011

Experience the small country of Macedonia and the kindness of its people while helping to build decent, affordable housing for a low-income family. This is an opportunity for adventurous people to join an exciting one-week trip to explore this small country in the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula. Macedonia abounds in natural beauty and has been given the name, “Pearl of the Balkans.”

No previous construction skills or experience is required—just a positive attitude and a willingness to do hard work.

About Macedonia
Macedonia has been going through political and economic transition under circumstances unusual for most Eastern European countries. Although it was the only former Yugoslav republic to gain independence peacefully, its transition from a centrally-planned structure into a market economy has been ridden with problems.

The change from a heavy reliance on subsidies to the logic of the free market in the 1990s led to rigid urban planning and significant deterioration of urban services in Macedonia. Consequently, the number of new dwellings completed per year dropped substantially. In response, the price of housing rose beyond what many families could afford.

The Roma population in Macedonia has clear housing need. Roma families often live in poorly-built substandard homes, in which they do not have appropriate water supply or sewerage connection. The houses of the Roma are small, planned for providing for the basic living needs. For more than 50 percent of this population group, there is less than 5 square meters of living space per family member. As much as 77 percent of the families use a sanitary facility (or outdoor toilet) in the yard, and 58 percent use water from a tap installed outside the house. In addition, almost 10 percent of the Roma population has no access to drinking water and other daily hygiene needs, and it is estimated that about 50 percent of these families do not have appropriate solutions for sewerage and the discharge of communal waters from their homes.

Global Village trip participants will serve in Veles, which lies in the heart of Macedonia and is at the crossroads of three rivers: the Topolka, Babuna and the Vardar. Veles remains an enchanting place for lovers of history with its many artifacts from numerous archeological sites dating as far back as 70,000 years. Nowadays, Veles is a leader in the implementation of informational technology in the local administration in Macedonia. Veles is a city of poetry, culture, history and tradition.

About Habitat for Humanity Macedonia
In January 2003, a group of committed people from all over Macedonia expressed a willingness to start a Habitat for Humanity program in Macedonia. Inspired by Habitat’s mission and ready to contribute their values, experience and time to help those in need, Habitat Macedonia officially became an HFH national program in June 2004.

A major project was launched in early spring 2005 and demonstrates Habitat Macedonia’s innovation and commitment to providing a hand-up to people in this region. In partnership with a local microfinance institution, HFH Macedonia has established a Home Improvement Fund that provides micro-loans for reconstruction and renovation of the substandard housing in Macedonia.

Two hundred-forty partner families are already beneficiaries from the Home Improvement Fund. HFH Macedonia has recently partnered with another microfinance organization, Horizonti, to provide 50 small loans to the most vulnerable groups of people in Macedonia. The maximum loan is up to 1,700 Euros with up to 30 months to repay the loan.

The principal type of need HFH Macedonia is addressing is for reconstruction and renovation of the existing dwelling stock, especially with low-income families that are unable to improve their living conditions. Habitat Macedonia offers the working poor, often forgotten in this region, partnership that can help them find decent and affordable housing solutions and change lives.

Types of construction for volunteers
Volunteers may work on the construction of new duplex units or on rehab projects.

Standard itinerary
(10-day itinerary)
Day 1 (Typically Thursday)
: Depart for Macedonia.
Day 2 (Friday)
: Arrive in Skopje, Macedonia; travel to Veles; welcome and orientation with Habitat host program staff member; dinner.
Days 3 (Saturday, work day)
: 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; time for team activities.
Day 4 (Sunday, free day)
: Easter Sunday; cultural activity.
Days 5–8 (Monday–Thursday, work days)
: Breakfast served before traveling to work site; work from 8a.m.–5p.m. with lunch on site; free time after work to clean up; dinner in local restaurants; time for team activities. 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.
Day 9 (Friday)
: Travel to Skopje; free time; final team dinner.
Day 10 (Saturday)
: Departure day.

Hotels are simple and basic and are located in the nearby town of Negotino. Team members will share double-occupancy rooms and a private bathroom. All facilities are screened by HFH staff to ensure they are safe, clean and well-maintained.

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

Team leader
This team will be led by Dave Yoder. Dave is retired and has been a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity for 18 years. During this time, he has been active in his local Habitat affiliate as a committee chairperson, ReStore volunteer and president of the board of directors. This will be Dave’s 14th Global Village trip as a team leader. He has also led four teams in the continental United States.

If you would like to know more about Habitat and this trip, contact Dave at 843-237-3857, or e-mail Dave at

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

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