1. Travel
Send to a Friend via Email

Discuss in my forum

Volunteer to Build Affordable Homes Internationally With Habitat for Humanity

Pounding Nails for a Good Cause

By

Habitat for Humanity Volunteers - Americorp Vista Habitat for Humanity Volunteers

Habitat for Humanity Volunteers

© Habitat for Humanity
Looking for a volunteer opportunity combined with a US or international trip? Find volunteer travel with Habitat for Humanity. Read more at the bottom of this article on volunteering to rebuild the storm-torn US Gulf Coast region, what you can do to help in Myanmar after Cyclone Nargis, or volunteer in earthquake-struck China.

What is Habitat for Humanity?

Habitat For Humanity is an international, nonprofit housing organization, working in partnership with families in need of decent shelter and with supervised volunteers, using largely donated materials, to build homes in the U.S. and around the world.

How Habitat For Humanity Works

Habitat's home base is in Georgia, but the work at the community level is overseen by affiliates - local, nonprofit organizations. Affiliates choose potential partners (families needing affordable housing) and volunteers. Use Habitat's affiliate search engine to find a project you'd like to help with. You can volunteer with Habitat for Humanity locally or internationally through Global Village, Habitat's international arm.

You don't need any special construction skill to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, although being able to pound nails is a plus. You'll be working side by side with volunteer team members and the partner family; partners contribute hundreds of hours of sweat equity toward their new home. In many cases, the rest of the community also pitches in.

Partners are chosen, after application, based on ability to make a down payment and repay the no-interest loan on new homes, level of need for housing and willingness to work hard.

How to Volunteer With Habitat for Humanity - Details

Click into a worldwide map to see where Habitat is building - you'll get information about the area, projects and local affiliate contact info, including e-mail addresses. You can also sort by date or alphabetically by country.
  • Global Village

    Get more detail about Global Village operations from their FAQ. Prepare yourself for sticker shock - 9-14 day trips cost anywhere from $1000 to $2200, not including airfare. Your cost does include room and board, in-country transportation, travel insurance and a donation toward the host community's building program. And it's not all work and no play - volunteer teams take time off for safaris, whitewater trips, ruins exploration or whatever interesting sightseeing and adventure the area has to offer.

Volunteering in Myanmar, China or on the US Gulf Coast

  • Myanmar - Habitat says they're assembling a technical team to "...partner with other organizations in support of long-term shelter and reconstruction efforts for those affected by the storm [Cyclone Nargis in spring 2008], which left nearly 1 million people homeless." For the moment, you can donate to Myanmar rebuilding efforts, and you'll be able to volunteer on the ground later. You can also see a very comprehensive list charities on the ground in Myanmar now from About.com's Southeast Asia writer.
  • China's Sichuan Province - Habitat's word on rebuilding in China after the spring 2008 earthquake: "...(our) team in the area is coordinating with local officials and other organizations involved in the relief phase and assessing needs for long-term reconstruction. Once the area is cleared and building permits are in hand, Habitat will begin initial reconstruction in partnership with local authorities and partner organizations." Stay tunes using Habitat's Disaster Program news web page.
    • US Gulf Coast - Habitat for Humanity has posted the following regarding volunteering in the US Gulf Coast area after Hurricane Katrina: "Please be aware that this is not a typical Habitat volunteer experience. Post-disaster conditions are usually harsh, uncomfortable and health risks are often present. Also, you may be asked to perform additional tasks that may not include house construction. Examples of such activities include debris clean-up, putting tarps on roofs, business recovery activities for affiliate offices and re-stores, counseling homeowners and documenting human interest stories."
      • Go to the affiliate search engine link to choose the Gulf area in which you would like to volunteer now or read Habitat for Humanity hurricane help news. Brandon Marsalis, honorary relief effort co-chair with fellow New Orleans Harry Connick, Jr., told Habitat for Humanity, "When the world's attention turns way from this disaster, there will be tens of thousands of New Orleaneans without a place to live."
    "Through travel I first became aware of the outside world; it was through travel that I found my own introspective way into becoming a part of it."
    --Eudora Welty

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.