Have you ever wanted to make a difference in someone’s life? Do you have enthusiasm, 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 experiencing the language, food and culture as well as the community’s warmth and friendliness.
Portugal is situated on the west side of the Iberian Peninsula, bordering Spain. 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 to 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, with 65 percent of the population living in dilapidated housing and 8.5 percent 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 living in poor conditions. However, support is not provided for the families that have been relocated. Social problems such as alcoholism, illiteracy, exclusion, lack of basic care and the creation of “social ghettos” are not solved with this kind of assistance. Only by promoting community-building and inclusiveness, and through educational and social programs, is it possible to break this poverty cycle.
Poverty housing in Portugal is spread throughout the country, with two distinctive kinds of housing: “hidden poverty” (typical Portuguese houses with a small orchard that hides the poor housing conditions) and the obvious shacks in the big cities. Since the 1970s, Portugal has been the destination country for immigrants from the former Portuguese colonies, 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 www.assoc-habitat.pt.
Types of construction for volunteers
Volunteers may work on single-family home and apartment renovation and repair projects.
- Day 1 (typically Saturday): Depart for Portugal.
- Day 2 (Sunday): Arrive in Porto, Portugal; travel to Braga; welcome and orientation with Habitat host program staff member; dinner.
- Days 3–8 Work days (Monday–Saturday): 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.Day 9 (Sunday): Free time; local cultural activities.
- Days 10-12 Work days (Monday-Wednesday): 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; farewell dinner on day 12.
- Day 13 (Thursday): Travel to Porto; free time; final team dinner.
- Day 14 (Friday): Departure day.
Hotels are simple and basic, and typically located near the project site. The team will stay in double-occupancy rooms with a private bathroom. All facilities are screened by HFH staff to ensure that they are safe, clean and well maintained.
(For more details about what is included in this cost, visit Global Village trip cost.)
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, Greece, Croatia, Turkey, South Africa, Portugal, Swaziland. and various parts of the United States. This will be Gary’s seventh Global Village trip and his sixth time servings as team leader. Join him for a rewarding adventure in Portugal. For more information contact Gary at email@example.com.