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Braga, Portugal

October 26, 2012 to November 5, 2012

Here’s a chance to be in Portugal off the tourist track helping families’ dreams of a decent home come true. We will work on building simple, decent homes for a community in Braga. Anyone who wants to experience being part of this old world culture is invited to join.

No previous construction skills or experience are required, just an ability to learn, be flexible, share tasks and enjoy making friends and acquaintances from different cultures as well as one’s own. It promises to be an amazing, life-changing vacation with a purpose. The team is seeking adventurous, hard-working and enthusiastic people looking to make a difference in the lives of others.

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 existent nations in Europe. It was the Portuguese sailors who, in the 15th century, discovered the 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 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 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 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 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 single-family home and apartment renovation and repair projects.

Standard itinerary

(11-day itinerary)

Day 1 (Friday): Depart for Portugal; from the U.S. overnight flights.

Day 2 (Saturday): Arrive in Porto, Portugal during the day; hotel in downtown Porto in historic district; come together as a group at dinner.

Day 3 (Sunday): Travel to Braga; welcome and orientation with Habitat host program staff member; dinner.

Days 4–9 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.

Note: 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.

Note: Thursday can be an optional cultural activity day or workday.

Day 10 (Sunday): Travel to Porto; 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 a private bathroom. All facilities are screened by HFH staff to ensure that they are safe, clean and well maintained.

Program cost


(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!

Team leader

Biff Houldin will co-lead this GV trip to Portugal. As founder and leader of Global Works, Biff has led international trips for 20 years and is now turning his attention to leading Habitat trips. He and his wife Pam have been on or led Habitat builds in Romania, Hungary, Portugal, Costa Rica, Jordan and Panama. He looks forward to meaningful work and discovery travel. Join this friendly group for an unforgettable experience in helping others. Biff can be contacted at

Bob Jones will be co-leader. Bob is a retired banker who has participated in Habitat builds in Hungary and Costa Rica. He has traveled extensively with his wife Carolyn. Bob has been involved with Habitat for several years. This is his first Global Village leadership role. He is excited and looks forward to expanding his support of Habitat for Humanity. Bob will act as coordinator so please contact him at for more details and help in making arrangements.

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

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