Workers Without Borders, a few neat none-profits you can put your trade skills to work with!

There is a place in every trade persons’ heart for sharing their skills and knowledge with others.  It feels good to be able to say; ‘I can make that happen’, and then to demonstrate.  And that is why working in the trades is so much fun! You learn as you go, and you share your knowledge too.  It is very empowering to go through your apprenticeship, learning so much about your trade, only to realize that the learning doesn’t stop once you reach journeyperson, as getting your ticket is usually when the real learning begins!  Honing in on these skills is how trades people build their own sense of power, their agency.  Sharing your personal power happens everyday you go to work and perform in your trade.

There are some groups of people that get together and they love what they do so much that they do the next level power sharing. They must have overfilled their personal power vials, because they are on a mission to spread the power by helping those less empowered.  They find people who need help, and they help them out for free.  We’ve all heard of these people: Habitat for Humanity has been around since 1976, building homes for people in need. Habitat is an international nonprofit housing organization, working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in approximately 70 other countries. Habitat’s vision is of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.  Habitat works toward their vision by building strength, stability and self-reliance in partnership with families in need of decent and affordable housing. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage.  Sometimes on a local level they unofficially send you to volunteer with another local nonprofit, such as Herowork in Victoria BC Canada. Herowork, their first project dated in 2011, is a growing none-profit that renovates other none-profits.  They like to call what they do modern barn raising, where they get a community together that takes older run down none-profits, and renovates them over the course of a few weekends.  To date they have renovated food banks, counselling centres and housing for homeless and at risk  facilities.  Their current project is a Young Mom’s Kiwanis House. To date they have produced $1,900,000 worth of nonprofit renovations in the Capital Regional District (CRD) Victoria Canada, with the help of volunteers many of whom are skilled trades people.

 Sometimes contractors will donate money to charities to give back, or organize small local scale community drives and events on their own.  These community building initiatives come from the contractors personal desire to help, and feeling empowered knowing they can.   I am certain all trades people would say they have helped out their friends and family.  But why stop at the local level? Builders without Borders is a group that takes their vision internationally. They are project managers and construction workers that design and rebuild safer homes, schools, medical and community facilities for vulnerable populations in need and following natural disasters. Their current projects on their website are listed as building a trades school in Haiti, and building tiny homes in Bella Bella, although they have listed participation in over 50 projects in 12 countries. BWB, around since 1998, is a volunteer-based registered Canadian foundation that partners with local and international NGOs, corporate and private organizations and governments to improve living conditions of vulnerable populations both in Canada and internationally. Engineers Without Borders is another international helper group, created in 2000. EWB-USA builds a better world through engineering projects that empower communities to meet their basic human needs and equip leaders to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. EWB-USA International Community Program collaborates on more than 370 projects in 40 countries. These projects are driven by 233 chapters across the United States partnering directly with communities to meet their self-identified needs.  Their current project list is too long to list here, and ranges from developing potable water access, education infrastructure and energy development. Construction for Change,  created in 2007 by three Construction Management Graduates takes yet another spin on internationally sharing their power. CFC partners with nonprofit organizations to build spaces where people can become healthier, better educated, and increase economic mobility.  They have been involved in projects such as a Women’s Protection Centre in Nepal, healthcare facilities in Kenya, and Carribean solar projects to name a few.  This group sources most of their labour and materials locally in the country the project is in, but saves the group that need help about 20% in overall project cost.  In case you were wondering why these groups don’t all team up,  turn out they do!  The list of partners on CFC’s website includes many of the groups listed in this article, and many more! 

There is probably a nonprofit group for just about any trade if you’re feeling motivated to travel and want to help empower other people. For instance,  Plumbers without Borders, Their mandate is to connect and mobilize volunteer plumbers and industry resources with organizations and projects dedicated to safe water and sanitation.  A recent project listed on their website was rainwater harvesting in Kenya with a primary school.   Electricians Workers Without Borders, is a group that seeks to live in a world where the benefits of electrical power are available to everyone in the world. They take their electrical skills and knowledge, and bring the electrical power to building projects.  They have volunteered on local projects within the United States, such as Habitat for Humanity, as well as projects in other countries such as Haiti, Angola, Surinam, and StKitts.  This group is located in the USA, and they are affiliated with a few other similar electrical groups throughout European countries such as France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Switzerland.  You can find out how to contact those groups via the EWWBNA website. Electricians Without Borders USA, based in the San Francisco, California area, is an off shoot of the larger EWWB umbrella. EWBUSA also have a mandate to serve underserved communities, often working with health care sectors in Dominica, Honduras, Phillipines and Haiti.  They take volunteers to install solar systems and other innovative energy solutions like angel Einsteins. To find out what it’s like to work on a project like this, go read this interview with one of the groups organizers and lead workers:

As you can see from this short but detailed list, there are a lot of ways people who want to help empower other people can get out and put their trades to use. If you haven’t quite filled your own power vial yet, that’s okay, we’ve got to take care of ourselves before we can take care of other people.  Just in case you were feeling the urge to do something a little extra, or even just follow online what these projects are up to, now you know they exist.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.