Latin America and Caribbean Featured Program: Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is a two-island republic in the Caribbean Sea. Trinidad is the larger island at 1,864 square miles, while Tobago is just 116 square miles. Trinidad has some hills and low mountains but is mostly covered by plains. Tobago is a volcanic island of mainly hills and low mountains, with a narrow strip of plains running along the coast.
The nation has a tropical climate, with an average annual temperature of 86 F (30 C). Temperatures remain relatively stable all year, but the islands experience a dry season from January to early June and a wet season from late June through December. During the wet season, rainstorms are frequent but usually short.
Habitat for Humanity Trinidad and Tobago serves the housing needs of persons in the low-income bracket. Statistics released by the nation’s Ministry of Housing show that the number of housing units needed for low-income families was 48,115 based on 2002 estimates.
The housing demand stems mainly from the growth in population. The major factors that prevent the low-income earner from homeownership are varied but often include unwillingness by financial institutions to finance mortgages for this low-income bracket. The spiraling costs of houses and land, as well as a lack of ownership certifications of inherited land, are other barriers for families living in inadequate conditions.
Community leaders in Trinidad and Tobago received approval to open a Habitat for Humanity affiliate in 1996. Shortly afterwards, the keys to the first Habitat house were handed to a family in Sangre Grande. Since then, Habitat houses have been constructed in other communities: Mayaro, Rio Claro, Penal, Point Fortin and Couva.
The average Habitat house in Trinidad and Tobago measures 27 by 21 square feet. Monthly mortgage payments over a 15-20 year period range between US$36 and US$99, a much more affordable cost than the average rent. Habitat houses are typically built using concrete blocks and galvanized roofs. Habitat for Humanity Trinidad and Tobago is also experimenting with steel-frame and concrete-board homes.
To date, Habitat for Humanity Trinidad and Tobago has constructed more than 293 houses and served 1,320 families and 3,951 individuals.
Types of construction for volunteers
Volunteers complete improvements finish work, repairs and expansions. International volunteers may work in all stages of construction, from digging the foundation to painting the houses. Regardless of what stage the house is in when the team arrives, responsibilities will likely include carrying bricks, mixing cement, compacting dirt and moving materials.
There will be designated resting zones with drinkable water and portable restroom with water and soap on work sites. The team will be supervised by technical advisors and construction experts who will provide construction goals every day.
Habitat for Humanity Trinidad and Tobago reaches out to communities located all around Trinidad, but Habitat projects has been mainly in Point Fortin, Carapichaima, Couva and the East West Corridor.
Teams arrive by international flight to Piarco International Airport for all project locations. Flights from the United States arrive from early in the morning until early evening.
Habitat for Humanity Trinidad and Tobago will determine the best lodging option for your group, taking into consideration the group size as well as proximity to the construction site. Work teams usually stay in hotels, retreat centers or dorm-style accommodations that are basic, safe and clean.
The team will be accommodated with double- or quadruple-occupancy rooms. The rooms are equipped with a private bathroom, though in some locations only shared bathrooms are available. Volunteers are not required to bring any bedding, but will need to pack a towel.
Transport to and from the airport and daily transportation to and from the work site will be on a private bus. In some cases, the hotel is near enough to walk to the site.
Food and water
Breakfast: Breakfast is typically a variety of “full American” (eg.: eggs, meat, pancakes, fruit, etc.). Breakfast is served in the hotel or at a local restaurant.
Lunch: The midday meal is normally served at the construction site so volunteers are able to share as much time as possible with the Habitat partner families.
Snacks: Light snacks are provided on the work site.
Vegetarians: Vegetarians, as well as those with other special dietary needs, can easily be accommodated.
Hosting structure and services
Habitat staff in Trinidad and Tobago can be contacted by phone or email and will answer correspondence within 48 hours. A Habitat for Humanity Trinidad and Tobago representative will accompany the team for the majority of their stay.
Teams will be greeted at the airport by Habitat staff and will have transportation arrangements from the airport to the build location. The national office arranges a cultural activity that involves the community and partner families and will help volunteers learn about the traditions and customs of Trinidad and Tobago.
Day 1 (Saturday): Depart for Trinidad and Tobago.
Day 2 (Sunday): Free day for a cultural activity.
Days 3-7 (Monday - Friday): Work days.
Day 8 (Saturday): Free day for a cultural activity.
Day 9 (Sunday): Depart for home or continue your visit to Trinidad and Tobago independently.
Starting at US$1,875
View the standard budget.
Year-round, except for certain short periods during major holidays.
Volunteer Engagement specialist
If you have read the FAQs and have further questions before you submit a Global Village trip proposal, please contact the regional Volunteer Engagement Specialist.
Please note: proposals for LAC trips should be submitted no less than six and no more than nine months prior to departure. Due to the LAC area’s hosting capacity and volume, this timeline ensures our team can best support you in the Global Village trip planning process.