Frequently asked questions
If your question isn’t answered here, please contact our Supporter Services team on 01295 264240 or email GlobalVillage@habitatforhumanity.org.uk.
Why Volunteer Overseas?
Some people ask why they can’t just send money, rather than going overseas as volunteers. It’s a good question, and here are some of the answers:
Why Volunteer - why not just send the money?
To see for yourself: By volunteering you can experience poverty housing for yourself. It’s an opportunity to become a passionate advocate for change in this world.
To understand: This is your opportunity to be personally and practically involved in international development through which you’ll get a better understanding of the complex issues and impacts of housing poverty.
To provide funding: The donation part of your costs will help more families to have decent homes.
To raise awareness of poverty housing: Raising funds for your trip gives you the perfect excuse to tell others about the issue of poverty housing and get them involved.
To provide encouragement: The excitement of your being there and your willingness to give up your time, money and energy will lift the spirits of the local community and give them fresh motivation.
To provide practical support: In many of the places where we work, there are few machines and manual labour is a key element of a build. You will help us to build or renovate homes faster.
To pass it on: When you return from volunteering, you’ll be able to show photos and videos of your trip to your sponsors to spread the message about poverty housing and what can be done about it.
Do I need experience of building or DIY?
No – most of the work is manual labour. Our homes or renovations are all designed to be volunteer friendly. You’ll be shown what to do and supervised by an experienced local construction worker. All you need to do is arrive ready to get dirty, work up a sweat and have a great time.
What will we do while we are there?
You will work alongside the local community to renovate or build a home for a family living in poverty (in most cases, they will help to build too). It’s mainly manual labour – digging foundations, mixing cement, laying concrete floors, building walls, simple carpentry and finishing. The actual work will depend on the need at the time.
It’s not all hard work! There’s time to relax, play with the local children, exchange stories with the community, watch a traditional dance, or visit a school.
Is there a minimum age?
We usually require people to be between 18 and 80 and of general good health. We can take 16/17 year old volunteers if accompanied by a parent or adult acting in loco parentis.
How fit do I need to be?
You will need to be relatively fit. The pace tends to be relaxed, but you are undertaking manual labour which by its nature is pretty physical. But if there are certain activities you cannot do because of a health limitation (e.g. no lifting because of a bad back), you can do something else instead. It’s about teamwork!
If you have health concerns, seek your doctor’s advice. Unfortunately we are unable to accept applications from volunteers who are travelling against the advice of their doctor.
How many people are on a team?
Generally 10-15. Selected destinations can take larger teams.
Who leads the team?
For all teams we provide a specially trained Team Leader as part of the cost. Their role is to look after your welfare and sort out any minor problems. In the unlikely event of a crisis they will also have a role in the implementation of our emergency plan.
What will the accommodation be like?
You will stay in simple, clean accommodation which can vary from school or church halls to hostels, guesthouses or hotels, depending what is available at the location of your work-site. If you are planning your own Private Group and you require accommodation to be of a certain standard, e.g. hotels, it may limit the choice of destinations. You will be advised if you will be sleeping on the floor of a school/church as you will also need to provide bedding and possibly mosquito nets.
What is the food and drink like?
You will eat simple but satisfying local food. Bottled drinking water is provided on site. In the evenings, you will go to selected restaurants or eat at your accommodation.
Will I get the chance to do any sightseeing?
Our trips are about service, learning and involvement with the work of Habitat for Humanity, rather than hitting the tourist trail. Itineraries may include a little local sightseeing, and/or some local cultural activities involving the community, such as visiting someone’s home, meeting the local women’s group or watching a display of dance or singing.
If you are interested in more general sight-seeing at the end of your trip, we can provide advice on possibilities. However, we regret that we are unable to organise it for you.
What about health and safety/insurance?
Personal travel insurance, including cover for your time on the work site, is included in the trip costs.
Health and safety in most countries where we work is not up to UK standards. We ensure that sites are as safe as possible for you to work on and our Team Leaders are there to make sure that our standards and Health and Safety policies are applied to the very best of our ability. We will provide safety briefings for you on site and request that you comply with these, even if the local people do not.
Your team leader is trained in appropriate first aid and will be given information on any pre-existing medical conditions of team members in case of emergency. This is of course treated in a confidential and discreet manner.
We have an established emergency procedure, with a member of Habitat for Humanity personnel on standby in the UK and local country 24 hours a day in case of emergency.
Habitat for Humanity has full third party liability insurance.
What about visas and vaccinations?
We will provide a health brief as a guide which outlines recommended and optional vaccinations and medication for your destination. However, we require all volunteers to take advice from a medical practitioner before travel. We will also provide information on how to obtain your visa if one is necessary.