Want to feel inspired? Nothing is more rewarding and inspirational than making a difference! You are invited to exchange 11 days of your life to join this friendly group for an unforgettable experience in helping others. This trip is an opportunity for meaningful personal interactions as we help local families improve their living conditions or build a new home with them. Our group will be immersed in their rich culture and traditions and learn about Gilwice’s fascinating history. All are welcome, including members with experience in building or with no skills at all. This is an adventure of a lifetime and we hope you’ll come along!
Poland is located in Central Europe, east of Germany, and also shares borders with Belarus, Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, Russia, Slovakia and the Ukraine. Poland is primarily flat, with mountains along its southern border. The climate in Poland is temperate, with cold, snowy winters and mild summers with frequent rain.
Poland joined the European Union in 2004 but, as a former member of the Eastern Bloc, Poland continues to deal with the legacy left by communist economic and social policies. Despite tremendous reforms, overcrowded and damp housing without proper sanitation is still the reality for many of Poland’s low-income working families. These families are often forgotten behind the walls of aging Soviet-style apartment building blocks.
Economic Housing Institute research indicates that almost one in four apartments in Poland should be condemned. Of the existing housing stock, approximately one in eight do not have a kitchen, and almost one in 10 share a toilet with an entire floor of apartments or have no indoor facility at all. With a severe affordable housing shortage, low-income families often have no choice but to live in substandard housing that threatens their health and safety.
About Habitat for Humanity Poland
Habitat for Humanity’s work in Poland dates back to 1992 in the town of Gliwice.
Multi-family units have been the centerpiece of Habitat’s work in Poland. These buildings are built to withstand Poland’s harsh winters, while allowing plenty of sun and fresh air in spring and summer. The buildings have wooden roofs and cement foundations. The walls are made of lightweight cellular blocks chosen because they provide good thermal insulation, a solid structure and easy handling.
Families have 20 years to pay off their no-interest loan, through monthly mortgage payments equal to roughly US$140. This amount is much less than the cost of the few bank loans currently available in Poland. In addition to the simple, decent housing that these apartments provide, many also share a small garden or play area for the children, creating a strong sense of community among the homeowners.
Poland is also an active player in the fight for a Polish housing legislation that would have the government address the issues of poverty housing in the country. HFH Poland built a coalition with different NGOs, housing experts, institutions related to housing, and started an awareness campaign on housing poverty.
Types of construction for volunteers
Volunteers will work on apartment and home renovation projects. The tasks will vary depending on the stage of construction.
Day 1 (Typically Friday): Depart the U.S. or other home country.
Day 2 (Saturday): Arrive in Poland; overnight in hotel; team dinner.
Day 3(Sunday): Travel to host program; welcome and orientation with Habitat host program staff member; dinner.
Day 4-9 (Work days, Monday-Saturday): Breakfast served before traveling to work site; work from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. with lunch on-site; free time after work to clean up; dinner in local restaurants; free time for team activities.
Note: Special events throughout the week, such as cultural experiences with host program staff, market tours, museum visits, etc.; walking tour of host city; farewell dinner and closing ceremony on final day at work site.
Day 10 (Sunday): Travel back to departure city; free time; final team dinner.
Day 11 (Monday): Departure day.
Hotels are simple and basic, and typically located near the project site. The team will stay in double-occupancy rooms with private bath. The team will spend the first and last nights at a hotel in arrival/departure city. All facilities are screened by Habitat staff to ensure that they are safe, clean and well maintained.
Breakfast is typically served at the hotel, lunch at the work site and dinner in a local restaurant. Water and snacks will be provided each day.
(For more details about what is included in this cost, visit Global Village program cost.)
Build a better world: Take the Global Village Challenge
Habitat for Humanity International is challenging Global Village volunteers to make an even greater impact on the global issue of poverty housing. We are asking all GV teams to help us raise an additional $1.1 million in the coming year to support Habitat’s building projects worldwide. Take up the challenge! Join us in sharing our story and building a better world!
Terra Wood has found Global Village trips to be the perfect way to combine her love of travel with her desire to help others by building a sense of community as well as houses. She started volunteering with Habitat in 2010 and her first trip was a woman’s build to Brazil. Her second was to Ireland in 2011. This is her first time leading a team.
Terra is excited to have the opportunity to travel while making a difference in people’s lives. For more information about this trip, contact Terra at firstname.lastname@example.org.