Intro to Volunteer Vacation: Very Unusual Packing Lists

Cluj-Napoca, Romania TeamWhen my team leader sent over an additional list of items needed for our trip I raised an eye-brow. Oh, great! Something to give TSA a little excitement. Paint brushes? Rubber gloves? Safety spectacles? I’m sure they’ll flip out. This also means extra thinking when putting the final touches on packing my luggage – a task I’ll be busy with all weekend long. Am I complaining? Not at all – volunteer vacations are the greatest! While I’m finding a good place to store the paint brushes and gloves I’ll be thinking of my mission: Turning hope into homes.

Building homes with Habitat for Humanity and their Global Village program was one of the most rewarding travel experiences I’ve had to date and I’m sure this new venture into Tajikistan will be equally rewarding. Going into these projects I’m never quite sure what part of the home building process I’ll be lending my hand to, but the paint brushes are cluing me into something. Hmm… Whatever the case may be, I’ll have the opportunity to work side-by-side with Tajik locals, families, and homeowners in a two-week project that will go a long way.

So as I prepare my list (hammer, level, mask…) and prepare to pack, the excitement continues to build. More to come on volunteering while vacationing, Habitat for Humanity International and the intriguing Central Asian land of Tajikistan. Stay tuned.

As of March 2006 HFH had built 106 homes between the two affiliates in Khujand and Dushanbe. In Tajikistan there are several half-built homes which volunteers and families will work together in completing or they will build houses from the foundation to the roof. The average cost of a home in Tajikistan is $4,864 USD.

(Photo: Group shot during Cluj-Napoca, Romania HFHI build in June 2001. I’m the one with my arm towards the sky.)