What’s it Like on a Global Village Trip?

A group of people (a random assortment of friends, couples, singles), some who may have been on a Global Village trip before and many who have not, some who have traveled a lot, and many who have not – mostly who want to do something to provide simple decent housing for people who need it.

I always say that it doesn’t matter if I don’t know anyone who’s on the team – people who will travel halfway around the world to build a house for someone are probably pretty nice.

In Mozambique, we fly into Maputo (MPM) and spend our first night there. We have a jet-lagged team dinner at a local restaurant to get acquainted. The next morning we walk around and hit the art market before we get on a bus and drive about 3 hours north to Xai-Xai in Gaza province – a great chance to see the countryside (and spend some non-jet lagged time together). That night we have an orientation from the local Habitat staff where people can ask questions about how families are chosen, etc.

The Mozambique Habitat for Humanity program is currently focused on orphans and vulnerable children (those with a sick parent), so the houses are fully subsidized rather than requiring a mortgage. Many of the men are away working in the mines or have died – either in the mines, of illness or back in the civil war. (See Africa’s Lost Eden by National Geographic for some background on the toll of the civil war.)

Hanging outside our cabin at Honeypots

Hanging outside our cabin at Honeypots

We stay at a place called Honeypots with cabins – it’s a lot like summer camp. We had a great time there last year. We have breakfast and dinner there in a dining hall. Lunch we have on site – either the families cook or we bring a packed lunch (sandwiches, chips, apples). Bottled water is provided. Honeypots has better water pressure than my apartment and the showers are great. On the work site there’s a latrine (it’s the new one that was built for the families). If you’ve never used one before, here’s some recommended reading.

It’s difficult to describe the difference the new house makes for the families – they are no longer exposed to the elements, they can lock their door, mosquito nets mean less chance of malaria. I’d say “transformational” – the same word people usually use to describe their experience on a trip.

What I love about this program in particular is how coordinated it is with the local communities and other services – everyone is working together to ensure the kids are in school, the mothers are in treatment, the malaria nets are being used, and that the families most in need are being served. That means that the local Habitat team is out walking the local communities, soliciting lists of families from local communities and asking for input. And then there’s a whole team back in the office organizing the logistics for each house (and building is proceeding whether there’s a Global Village team in country or not). The logistics team is ensuring that each house has the materials delivered as they are needed, in the right amounts, working with the local masons and their crews.  Everything we need is there when we arrive, and we pick up as we go to re-use every bit of wire, wood, etc.

On the worksite, there are professional masons – you don’t have to have construction experience or special skills – everyone is welcome. We mix cement, carry water and cement blocks, lay blocks, push wheelbarrows full of sand, shovel, lift buckets of cement, play with the kids and spend time with the families.

 blowing bubbles with the kids

Stef blowing bubbles with the kids

And in 5 days there’s a finished house with a roof and a floor and everything! We finish with a dedication ceremony that makes it officially belong to the family.

If you have questions about whether it’s for you, please let me know. I’d love to talk to you.

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