Building Global Villages: Volunteer and Travel With Builders Without Borders

Build homes for impoverished communities by participating in Builders Without Borders.


BWB workers mix earthen plaster for a Mexican straw bale house.

Photo By Catherine Wanek

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Builders Without Borders (BWB) is an international network of ecological builders who create affordable housing from local materials. These hands-on humanitarians believe the solution for homelessness lies in training local populations to provide housing for themselves. A nonprofit organization, BWB has accomplished impressive feats since its 1999 inception under the leadership of author and teacher Joseph Kennedy, architect Alfred von Bachmayr, video producer and author Catherine Wanek, and other natural builders.

BWB has undertaken the following projects:

Laguna Pueblo, New Mexico: Partnered with the National Indian Youth Leadership Project to build a straw bale hogan.

Ciudad Juarez, New Mexico: Earth-plaster workshop; volunteers built a straw bale house for a family who lost their home in a fire, using wooden shipping pallets as roof trusses.

El Paso, Texas: Straw bale wall-raising at the Tierra Madre development.

Northern China: Donated teaching materials to the Adventist Development and Relief Agency for a straw bale housing project.

Ethiopia: Donated teaching materials to Voluntary Services Overseas for a straw research project.