Latin America and Caribbean Featured Program: Mexico
Mexico is located in the northern region of the American continent, with the Gulf of Mexico on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west. It covers almost 2 million square kilometers, making it the fifth largest country on the continent. It is divided into 32 states, each truly diverse. The climate ranges from tropical to desert; however, warm temperatures are the norm in most elevations.
Although Mexico has a strong economy, more than half of the Mexican population currently does not have economic means for buying or constructing adequate housing. Of the employed population (about one-third of Mexicans), 7 million earn less than the minimum wage. Ten million make less than two minimum wages a day. This means that more than half of Mexico’s employed population makes US$30 dollars a month or less, yet these workers support half of the nation’s families.
Government estimates state that 1 million families live in substandard housing, but these calculations do not include the many families who rent rooms or live cramped inside another family member’s home, as do many of the families that HFH serves. When considering these families, HFH Mexico estimates that the housing need rises to a staggering 2 million families, or about 10 million people.
Habitat for Humanity’s efforts to alleviate poverty in Mexico date back to 1988, when it started working in two communities: Dexthi Alberto in Chihuahua and San Pedro Capula in Hidalgo. Once legally constituted as a civil organization, Habitat Mexico developed a more extensive national program that today covers roughly 15 states, making it one of the largest HFH programs in all of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Habitat houses shelter families in rural, semi-urban and urban areas. The average house is built in roughly three weeks and measures between 42 to 49 square meters. In compliance with urban housing code requirements, Habitat houses in cities measure the minimum 60 square meters and include electrical and plumbing installations.
Construction materials vary from region to region. In order to reduce house costs, HFH tries to use as much of the region’s local materials as possible. For example, roofs may be built of galvanized zinc or reinforced concrete, and walls may stand with bricks, adobe or concrete blocks. Materials also vary depending on the region’s climate and susceptibility to earthquakes and hurricanes.
The average Habitat house has two bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, a living/dining room and either a dry latrine or toilet. Partner families pay their loan in an average of seven years through monthly installments (about US$74), a much more affordable cost than rents paid for inadequate shelter (roughly US$100 to US$200).
Types of construction for volunteers
Volunteers may be involved in house improvements, finish/conclusions, repairs and additions/expansions. On the work site, volunteers will learn about the local culture by working side-by-side with partner families and community members. Habitat Mexico will provide tools and safety gear for all team members, and supervisors and masons will guide the construction process. There will also be designated resting areas provided at each work site with drinkable water and bathroom facilities.
Nayarit, Puebla, Oaxaca
Oaxaca: flights to Huatulco
Hotels are simple and basic and typically located near the project site.
Habitat Mexico will assist in transportation arrangements from the airport to the hotel, either via private transportation with hired drivers; public buses similar to Greyhound or recommended authorized taxis from the airport, depending on the location of the build. Public buses in Mexico are comfortable, safe and clean.
Transport to and from the work site each day will be via truck, van or taxi, depending on the location and size of the team.
Food and water
Breakfast: Typically served in the hotel or a local restaurant.
Lunch: The midday meal is usually served on the worksite, or a local restaurant, or may be a packed lunch prepared by the team or the hotel.
Dinner: Typically served in the hotel or a local restaurant.
Snacks: Snacks are typically not provided at the worksite. Volunteers should bring or purchase a small supply of snacks for the worksite.
Water: Purified water, or arrangements for getting it, will be provided by the project where the team will be working. Volunteers should bring refillable water bottles to carry with them.
Hosting structure and services
Habitat staff in Mexico can be contacted by phone or email and in most cases are able to answer correspondence within 48 hours. A Habitat Mexico staff representative will accompany the team for at least 50 percent of their stay.
A mobile phone will be provided to the team leader upon arrival.
Teams that arrive in Mexico will typically be met at the airport by Habitat staff and will have transportation arrangements from the airport to the build location. The national office arranges a welcome activity that involves the community and partner families and will help volunteers learn about the traditions and customs of the people. Educational materials and informative worksheets will be given to explain the housing needs that people have in Mexico.
Day 1 (Arrival day, typically Saturday): Greeted at airport by Habitat Mexico staff; transported to host program.
Day 2 (Sunday): Orientation and welcome.
Days 3–7 (Workdays, Monday–Friday): Breakfast served before traveling to worksite; work from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. with lunch on-site; free time after work to clean up; supper of typical Mexican food; time for team activities.
Day 8 (Saturday): Free time; final team dinner.
Day 9 (Final day, Sunday): Travel to departure city and departure day.
Note: Special events throughout the week include: cultural experiences with host program, such as traditional dance, agricultural and architectural tours, typical food preparation, etc. There will also be a farewell activity.
View the standard budget.
Volunteer Engagement Specialist
If you have read the FAQs and have further questions before you submit a Global Village trip proposal, please contact the Latin America and Caribbean Volunteer Engagement Specialist Heather Ewing at firstname.lastname@example.org or 229-410-7700 .
Please note: Proposals for LAC trips should be submitted no less than six and no more than nine months prior to departure. This timeline ensures our team can best support you in the Global Village trip planning process.