Volunteering on a build site can be a bit of a shock to the system. If you don’t remember to look out for yourself, you might be spending your days recuperating in a hotel bed instead of building alongside your teammates. There’s nothing worse than missing out on the incredible memories made while building a family’s new home, so here are our tips for staying happy and health on your trip!
Tip 1: Be sun smart
Many of our builds take place in hot, humid countries. Anyone who has volunteered in Cambodia, Indonesia or Sri Lanka will tell you that the days are warm and the sun is strong. Staying hydrated is the best way to avoid becoming ill, and you should always wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen to avoid sunburn. Habitat for Humanity always provides plenty of drinkable water on our sites, so be sure to make the most of it!
Tip 2: Know your limits
As volunteers, we don’t expect you to have any prior building experience. We understand that most of you are far more used to sitting at a desk than performing manual labour. For this reason, we encourage you to think about your capabilities and only work to your capacity. Don’t push yourself too far – it’s not worth risking an injury.
Tip 3: Take regular breaks
Working on site will be tiring at times, and you’ll need to take the time to rest and recover. Be sure to find a place in the shade to down tools and spend some time away from work. You may want to take a quiet moment to reflect on where you are and what you are doing. Alternatively, you can use the time to have a conversation with the family whose home you are building or some of the local labourers. There’s so much more to the build experience than just laying bricks!
Tip 4: Talk to your team leader
You team leader will be your first point of contact for all matters on site. If you’re struggling with a certain job or you aren’t feeling well, they are the person you need to see. Your team leader will be responsible for the first aid kit, for overseeing jobs performed on site, and for communicating with Habitat staff on behalf of the team. They are there to help you and make sure you have the best experience possible.
Tip 5: Eat and drink wisely
Habitat for Humanity local staff will help to select the restaurants for the team’s meals, so you will only eat in places that are tried and tested. If you’re eating on your own, we encourage you to sample the local cuisine, but be cautious with street food. After a long day on the build site, it might also be tempting to have a couple of drinks. However, we recommend keeping alcohol to an absolute minimum, as it doesn’t mix well with long days spent in the hot sun, making you more prone to dehydration, heat stroke and stomach bugs.
If you would like further information, including more detail on specific countries, we recommend that you check out Smart Traveller.
We look forward to seeing you on the build site!
The Global Village team