Big Build 2012


5 DAYS, 2 counties, 14 HOUSES, 200 VOLUNTEERS per day

Big Build is the event through which Habitat for Humanity marks World Habitat Day and is celebrated every year on the first Monday in October, building homes for disadvantaged families in Romania together with hundreds of volunteers from across the country and from abroad.

This year, the 4th edition of the event will take place during the period 1-5 October.  The main objective of the project is the raising of 11 homes from foundation to roof level, simultaneously in two locations: Oradea and Preajba (near Craiova) and also the finishing touches on 3 homes in Preajba.  Starting in 2009, when the first edition of Big Build took place in Beius, the event has received recognition from many accredited authorities in the field, including two first prizes in the categories of “volunteer projects and campaigns” and “social inclusion” at the Civil Society Gala as well as “best volunteer program 2011” at the Volunteer Gala.

Like in previous years, the Habitat worksite hosts international volunteers. A group of over 40 Northern Irish will come to Oradea for a week. They will work side by side with beneficiaries and other local volunteers, led by the desire to give, literally, a helping hand to others. It’s the 4th year in which Habitat for Humanity Northern Ireland has joined the Big Build project.

Many homes, two towns, a single community

This year we are extending the support offered to families in Romania up until now, building simultaneously in different areas of the country. The joy of being part of such a large family will be shared this time at a national level, supporting the objective of sending a strong message to authorities in Romania regarding the importance of the home and living conditions in the life of our communities and to invite authorities into a dialogue and cooperation for the benefit of the needy.


Click to see the location of Big Build 2012 on a bigger map!


Big Build means more than just the construction of some houses. The event aims to show that the Habitat movement can grow only with the support of communities, of everyone involved in a radical change for the better.

Cooperation and mutual support are values which guide us in every project. We invite everyone to join us in the belief that strength comes from this diversity and interaction.

World Habitat Day

Since 1986, the first Monday in October was declared as “World Habitat Day” by the United Nations. Supporters from all over the world will celebrate together with Habitat for Humanity, taking part in special projects which will draw attention to the need of safe, decent and affordable housing.

In Romania, as in every year, we will mark this day through an accelerated construction event, dedicating the month of October to the home and family and inviting everyone to take a few moments to think of the importance and the richness of the word “home”.

Big Build Objectives:

•  11 homes built and 3 homes finalized in 5 days during the period 1-5 October 2012, simultaneously in two locations: Oradea and Preajba, Craiova.
•  The radical improvement in living standards for 14 of the poorest families, 8 from Dolj county and 6 from Bihor county.
•  The empowering of beneficiary families through their involvement in the construction of their houses by the carrying out of 600 hours of volunteering by each family.
•  The promotion of national volunteering through raising the public awareness of the value of support by volunteer members of communities.
•  The promotion of private sector involvement in social responsibility activities.
•  The involvement of local communities in this project and the enhancement of solidarity between these members.
•  The addressing of vulnerable communities’ problems and the raising of funds to resolve their housing situations.

Beneficiary’s stories

Karoly Egri is 23 years old and was in born in Marghita, having a brother, Iosif (26 years old), and also a sister, Eva (28 years old). Although they were maternal siblings (having different fathers), this didn’t prevent them from loving each other a lot and looking after each other especially after they left their mother’s home and they arrived in their new family.

“My mother wasn’t the ideal responsible woman, with us being raised and maintained practically by own grandmother from her modest pension. It was our grandmother who took care of us, so that we wouldn’t go hungry or walk around in dirty clothes. Because of this, even after we arrived at Caminul Felix, we looked for her each year and we spent several weeks with her during the holidays so that we can help her” said Karoly.

Being in the care of their grandmother most of the time, who tried as much as she could to help them, some close friends encouraged her to put them into the care of Caminul Felix as she was getting old and it was getting more and more difficult to take care of them and offer them an adequate education. So, when Karoly was 4 years old, the three siblings moved together into a family at Caminul Felix alongside another 13 children.

“When I speak with people and tell them what my name is, some of them speak with me in Hungarian as my name is a Hungarian name, but I tell them that I don’t know any Hungarian to their surprise. When I was small, I didn’t know any Romanian, only Hungarian, because that was how our grandmother spoke with us. But now, I don’t know any Hungarian as I didn’t have anyone to speak Hungarian with in our new family, but I now speak Romanian very well” said Karoly amused. 

When he was 18 years old, he decided to move into an apartment in Oradea together with his older brother Iosif and he quickly found a job in sales for companies in hypermarkets in Oradea. With time, their sister, Eva, got married and has 2 children.

“This is my dream as well, to sit down in my own house and to have a family!” said Karoly.

Daniel Szentmiklosi, is 24 years old and was born into a modest family with a further 3 siblings, in a village of which he can’t remember the name. After a devastating fire which destroyed the house in which they were living, the family barely managed to escape with their lives and were left homeless.

“At 4 years old, after our house burnt down, I was brought to Caminul Felix where I’ve been living for more than 18 years. I graduated from Constantin Brâncuş Techinical College and I currently work at a milling machine at a company in Oradea” said Daniel

On arrival at Caminul Felix, he moved into a family in which there were a further 17 children, the majority having a similar story to his. Here he learnt to love his neighbour, he learnt to do good works and take care of the poor. Even from a small age, he lived to participate and be actively involved in the Salem Christian Centre where he now is responsible with the lights and reflectors used in conferences or church services.

“I live to be involved in any activities where I can be a helping hand. I do it with pleasure, I do it with joy and I have a sense of fulfilment every time I can help a work colleague whether it’s helping a work colleague cut wood or to work alongside a friend on the worksite to help them build their home” says Daniel.

Because he’s hardworking, he’s worked on the Habitat worksite alongside his siblings and volunteers. He’s always been impressed by the gift of the work which is done by volunteers and their large hearts.

“For me, it’s a blessing to be alongside these types of people and I can’t thank them enough as they inspire me and at the same time they fill me with energy. May God bless them and repay them!” said Daniel.

Ionică Bala, is 23 years old and was born into a family with many children in the town of Marghita, a locality which is about 60 kilometres from Oradea. Out of the 12 children in the family, he was the only one who was given into the care of Caminul Felix at the age of 3 years old, due to financial problems in the family. Since that day, Ionică has only seen  his parents and siblings once, and he doesn’t like to talk about it.

“When I was 14 years old and I started to think more maturely and I understood that I have grown up in another family, I wanted to find out about my natural family. It was then, that I found out that I have 11 siblings and that my parents sent me to grow up at Caminul Felix. I kept asking myself why they chose me, why was I the one that they gave up, and even today I don’t know the response” said Ionică.

At Caminul Felix, he grew up with another 18 siblings, children like him who were abandoned by their parents or who had been orphaned by unhappy accidents. It was very difficult at the start, but as the years passed by he understood that bad things turn into good and that probably the education that he received at Caminul Felix wouldn’t have been the same as if he stayed with his natural family and he would have had a childhood lacking lots of things and many hard times. He also, got to the point where he considers his other siblings with whom he grew up as his true siblings. To call them, to meet up with them, to help and take care of each other as much as they can.

Reaching adulthood, he works as a driver of minibuses. He’s really proud of what he does and works with passion and is really appreciated by the leadership of the transport section of Caminul Felix.

He currently lives in rented accommodation with another two youth who grew up at Caminul Felix, but his dream is to have a home which is reliable and stable.

“Now, at 22 years old, I want to participate as a volunteer in the Habitat project which I believe will help me to have a better future. Probably it’s the only chance that I’ll have of having my own home and help me fulfil my dream” says Ionică.

Claudiu Szilagy
is a grown man at 24 years old.  When he was just 2 years old he was abandoned in a hospital and from there he came to live in a family with 18 siblings at Caminul Felix. He never knew neither his true parents, or his two older siblings of whom he just heard about.

“I can’t say that it was difficult or easy to grow up here, but I can say that I received a great chance to choose a good road in life, a road which all my siblings in our house have followed. When I was born again, they helped me. When they had difficulties, I held out my hand to help them. That means a lot to me” said Claudiu.

After he finished high school, Claudiu found a job working in construction. Nowadays, he’s still working in the same field, working at a construction materials yard in Oradea, being really appreciated by clients because of his sense of humour and openness.

A short while ago, he met a girl which opened a new road, the road to God.  Since then, he’s always been going to church and doesn’t do anything with thinking of Him above. And so God has responded to him, now offering the chance to obtain a home.

Anamaria Maftei is 20 years old and like the majority of the youth that have grown up at Caminul Felix, she spent the first years of her life in difficult conditions. Her parents lived in poor conditions and they could ensure the daily needs of their two children, Anamaria and Dănuţ.  So, one day the authorities knocked on the door and took the two children into care and placed them in an orphanage. Not long afterwards, they came together to the Cozma family home at Căminul Felix. Here they grew up alongside a further 10 children in good conditions, not lacking anything apart from their parents that brought them into this world.

“I remember that I was 9 years old and one day I was coming home from school with another girl, a neighbour and friend. In front of our house was a police care and some ladies told me to leave my books at home as we were going for a ride. That’s how I came to the orphanage, together with my brother Dănuţ who is a year younger than me and that is where we stayed for a few months until we came here” says Anamaria.

Even after moving to Caminul Felix, the two children were visited by their mother and father who found it hard to be separated from them. After a short time, their mother died and their father tried without success to put his life back together. He only managed to father another child, Alexandra, who also came into the care of Caminul Felix and who now stays together with Anamaria who is trying to help her to carve a better way in life.

Tamaş Fazakaş, whose friends call him Tomy, is a nice young man of 24 years old who has a lot of common sense. But this is only one side of him since the difficulties from his childhood are hidden. He was abandoned at an orphanage in Oradea when he was 7 years old. He doesn’t remember much from when he was small, just that he stayed with his parents in a house somewhere on the edge of town and his parents were always arguing.

“I just remember that my father shouted and beat my mother all the time. I don’t know why because I hid in a corner and listened and watched everything with dismay without understanding any of it” says Tomy.

It wasn’t long until his parents divorced and he was sent to an orphanage. It was from here that he was taken into the care of a loving family at Caminul Felix, who took care of him until he reached adulthood. He doesn’t remember his siblings, but he later found out that he had a further 7 siblings of which only one is still living. As the years passed by, he found out that his mother now lives in Oradea. He was very surprised to see her at the only meeting which he had with her since he was abandoned,  when she was in hospital with big health problems and she told him that all the children she had given birth to, had died. All he knows about his father is that he lives in Hungary, but he’s never seen him since he was left at the orphanage.

At Caminul Felix, he found all the support that he needed and he’s very grateful for them that he can now lead a normal life.