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Building Homes and Giving Hope in Romania


In November 2014, I came back from Nepal where I joined a team of international volunteers under the leadership of Habitat for Humanity. We constructed 36 houses as part of the Everest Build Project. Together with a team, I built with my own hands a house for Nirmala Tamang and her family in the rural area of Nepal (you can read that story here Building Homes Giving Hope Nepal). Sitting at the airport waiting for my flight back home, I knew that it would not be my last experience with Habitat for Humanity, and that one day, I would lead a team of Cisco colleagues to build a house for another family.

Two-and-a-half years later, on 15 of May 2017, I boarded a plane for Bucharest...

Our amazing team of Cisco volunteers on the site
Our amazing team of Cisco volunteers on the site - Milena Doumanova, Amber Wood, Jutta Graefensteiner, Jasmin Windischmann, Mathieu Feuerhahn, Jacek Lorenz, Frank Engels, Arjun Kumar, Dan Gavojdea, Ionut Gradinaru, Dragos Diaconu, Jamin Silverstein, Agnieszka Jank

this time with a team of Cisco colleagues and friends, all just like me willing to give back. Thirteen people, eight nationalities, living in eight different countries from Romania to Qatar. A group of amazing diverse volunteers aligned towards one common goal!

After a 6-hour bus drive, we found ourselves in the remote, rural part of Romania, in a small town called Comanesti. After a short safety briefing, we entered the construction site and for the next 8 hours, we mixed cement, laid the house foundation and prepared the rebar (the reinforcing steel that would support the structure).

Over the next five days, the team continued the build. We didn't finish the house, which was everybody's dream—but we definitely moved things forward as you can see from the pictures. In the next weeks and months different teams of volunteers are scheduled to come to Romania to continue working on the house and complete it in early 2018!

The building site when we first arrived
The building site on the last day

The week we spent in Romania will stay with me and the whole team for a long time. We experienced an amazing team spirit, with everyone working towards the common goal of building a local family's first own home. This goal helped us to overcome any lack of skills and tiredness.

From the very first day, we were able to work together, to help each other and to use everybody's strengths to accomplish the tasks set. We found so much fulfilment from helping the less fortunate with our own hands. And we had great fun while doing it and working with each other. For me personally, leading this team was a true honor.

Peles Castle, Transylvania
Peles Castle, Transylvania

Looking back, I realize that we were not only helping a single family to have their own home, but also setting a great example of volunteering in a country where there is no strong tradition of volunteering or giving back. Last but not least, I discovered more about one of the many countries from our Central Theatre, which is my place of work. I also learnt that Romania is a country of people with big hearts, beautiful nature and a fascinating history.

But there is one more thing staying with us: Flocke! The little puppy came to our building site on Monday morning and stayed with us the whole day. After coming back to the hotel in the evening, we knew–we had to find a home for her. Project "Make Flocke Happy" has started. With many people helping on the way, we are almost on the finish line–Flocke is coming to Munich on June 15th to be welcomed in her new home.

Flocke welcoming us on our first day at the construction site
Flocke welcoming us on our first day at the construction site.

Cisco helped to make my dream of leading a team for a Habitat project come true. The support of our fundraising efforts by matching every donation we made as well as giving us 5 Days Time2Give make this dream possible.

Habitat for Humanity is very involved in delivering affordable housing to people in Romania. Cisco supports them by matching every donation. If you want to give some hope to people of Romania please donate: http://www.habitat.ro/en/

And if you want to go and build some houses with your own hands then let me know. I am preparing for our next trip in 2018. Maybe we can do it together?

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