In late July, Mt. Airy resident Graham Robb will be traveling to Zambia for twelve days as part of a Habitat for Humanity Global Village team. The group will be working with local volunteers and families to construct housing as part of Habitat Zambia’s Orphans and Vulnerable Children program.

This will be Graham’s fifth international trip with Habitat for Humanity and his fourth time leading a team, having previously traveled to Brazil, Romania, Portugal and Argentina. Team Leaders, such as Graham, help recruit participants and coordinate planning with the Habitat affiliate in the host country.

The team of 12 to 14 volunteers will include women and men of all ages from the Philadelphia area, and others from across the country who volunteer through Habitat’s website. There are still spots available for those interested in participating. Volunteers do not need any construction experience as the local Habitat staff will provide instruction and supervision. There will also be an opportunity, for those who want to stay on in Zambia for a few extra days, to visit Victoria Falls and spend time at a safari camp.

A former British colony, Zambia gained its independence in 1964. In the late 1960s, Zambia seemed to be on the road to economic stability as the third largest copper producing country in the world. However, by the early 1980s, the falling price of copper had plunged Zambia into debt. Despite recent economic progress, Zambia remains one of the world’s least developed nations.

Habitat for Humanity Zambia was founded in 1984 and currently operates in six of Zambia’s nine provinces. Most homes are built with bricks made of mud and burnt to harden the mud. The average house size is 35 square meters (about 300 sq. ft.).

Habitat Zambia’s Orphans and Vulnerable Children program aims to assist children under age 18, many of whom have lost one or both parents to AIDS, who are living in substandard housing and/or are trying to survive on less than $2 per day. AIDS has been widespread with nearly 1 in every 7 adults having the disease, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of orphaned children. Unfortunately, government programs in Zambia are not sufficient. For these children and their caregivers (who are often grandparents) Habitat Zambia partners with other organizations and corporate sponsors to build homes with grant money. Recognizing that these children need more than shelter, Habitat works with its partner organizations to provide a range of social services for children and their caregivers, including assistance with legal issues (e.g. land tenure and inheritance), counseling, health education, and school supplies.

Another unique aspect to this trip is that the team of volunteers will be living in the community in which they will be working. Participants will be staying in group houses (using sleeping bags or simple cots) located within walking distance of the construction site. Meals are prepared by local members of the community. The communities in which Habitat is working in Zambia utilize “bucket showers” and pit latrines. There will also be an emphasis on providing opportunities for participants to engage in cultural activities within the community.

For more information on the July 26 thru August 7 trip to Zambia, contact Graham at g.robb@verizon.net or 215-317-5912. The cost for each participant is $1,950, which covers housing, meals, and all travel expenses within Zambia. Roundtrip airfare to Lusaka is not included and there will be an additional cost for those who extend their stay to visit Victoria Falls and go on safari.

You can find more information on the July 26 trip to Zambia and Habitat for Humanity Global Village trips to other countries at www.habitat.org/gv.