Over the summer, Christopher travelled as part of a Youth Build team to support Habitat projects in Romania. Here, he told us about his experience.
On 27th June 2019, I left Belfast with 18 other young people and headed to Dublin for our 4 and a half hour flight to Bucharest. We were heading on a 10 day trip to Vaideeni, Romania. Here, our aim was to begin the process of building houses for the most vulnerable in the community, which had been ravaged by flooding in 2014.
When we first went to the work site, we were introduced to the local builders that we would be working with over the coming days and shown the safety procedures. This day also allowed us to understand the poverty and inequality that is in Romania and the poor living conditions that many Romanians endure every day.
On the work site were 14 metal containers that housed families of up to 5 people. There were only around 4 families still living in the containers on site as many had moved to other accommodation. The families had been living in the containers since the flooding of 2014.
Our third day was our first full day on site. As we were the first ever team on this is site, our job was to begin the foundation works. We split into small groups, some cutting metal, others bending and some making the rebars. We spent a little time with the children who were on site on our lunch break, many of which were keen to try and learn some basic English to communicate to us.
As the days went on, we started to perfect our bending metal and re-bar making skills. But we were also able to do something incredibly powerful. We broke ground on site. This was a monumental moment for all of us but also for Habitat as this was the beginning of new houses being built.
At this site, 6 houses were being built for families then 4 apartments for single parent families. We all had a chance to begin to dig into the ground and later that day the diggers arrived to help us out. At this point in the trip it highlighted to us the work we had been there to do and the impact we were making to the people of the village.
The next day, we made concrete and filled in the foundations. Everything was starting to take shape and I personally felt honoured to be a part of it. We had been talking to the locals and we could tell how happy they were with the progress so far.
On our final day, we had a ceremony to say goodbye. This was a chance for us all to thank the local builders and to say good bye to the families who lived on site.
The trip was extremely rewarding, I am so happy with all we achieved and so glad I decided to travel to Romania and take part in such a great project. I would recommend this to any young person thinking of volunteering.