Participants on Guatemalan GV trips meet engaging people, enjoy stunning scenery and encounter a stimulating culture. After arriving in Guatemala on Saturday, our team of 12 will travel to our work location in Baja Verapaz Sunday to settle in and have an orientation. Monday through Friday are work days where we’ll travel together to house sites where we’ll work with local masons to build a home for a new Habitat family. No previous construction experience is necessary. After the work week, we’ll spend Saturday in the colonial city of Antigua, an hour from Guatemala city. If it’s a normal trip, we’ll work hard, take restful breaks, have delightful conversations and become powerfully inspired by the dear, Guatemalan people we’ll meet. If it’s an extraordinary trip, it will profoundly change your life.
Guatemala is located in Central America. It borders the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico, and the Gulf of Honduras (Caribbean Sea) between Honduras and Belize. Volcanic peaks, scenic coastlines and a forested mountain interior shape the brilliance of the Guatemalan landscape.
Guatemala is a small country in Central America with an estimated population of 13 million. It hosts a tropical climate along the lower elevations and cooler weather in the mountains. The country is full of rich indigenous culture and Spanish traditions. However, Guatemala also has a nearly 80 percent poverty rate and a housing deficit of about 1.5 million units.
About Habitat for Humanity Guatemala
Since its founding in 1979, Habitat Guatemala has built more than 33,000 homes, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for Guatemalans in need of housing. Structured as a community organization that includes the participation of more than 700 local volunteers, Habitat specializes in working with families that have no access to the national financing system (banks, cooperatives, etc.) and who are living in inadequate conditions.
HFH Guatemala constructs earthquake-resistant houses made with concrete floors, block walls and corrugated zinc roofs. Habitat has a presence in all Guatemala’s departments, working with more than 205 local committees in 260 communities.
Types of construction for volunteers
Volunteers will generally be involved in full home constructions. At times, volunteers may be involved in improvements, finish/conclusions, repairs and additions/expansions. During construction days, they will be trained to use the basic construction tools provided, and they will learn the types of housing they are going to be working on. Technical supervisors and masons will be present everyday on the work site to guide the construction. They will provide construction goals every day and verbal reports of the progress made.
To guarantee the safety of all team members, the national office will provide an emergency and evacuation plan at every work site. There will also be bathrooms with water and soap and designated resting areas with chairs and drinkable water near every build site.
Day 1 (Arrival day, typically Saturday): Greeted at the airport by Habitat Guatemala staff; shuttles to Antigua if team arrives before 5 p.m., if not stay in Guatemala City.
Day 2 (Sunday): Orientation with Habitat Guatemala staff member; travel to project site; welcome ceremony with families and Habitat staff; dinner.
Days 3-7 (Work days, Monday-Friday): Breakfast served before traveling to work site; work from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. with lunch on-site (in the rainy season or hot areas the work days will start earlier); free time after work to clean up; supper of typical Guatemalan food; time for team activities.
Day 8 (Saturday): Travel back to Antigua; free time; overnight in Antigua.
Day 9 (Final day, Sunday): Departure day.
Note: Trip includes special events throughout the week, including cultural experiences with affiliate staff, such as traditional dances, market tours, boat rides, etc., as well as a walking tour of host city and farewell ceremony.
Hotels include double- or triple-occupancy rooms and are simple and basic and typically located near the project site. Guatemala’s climate can be humid in some areas, and so rooms in some areas may smell a bit musty. Hot water is typically provided; however, the water heating systems may not work as well as in the volunteers’ home countries. Hotel rooms will be cleaned and maintained daily and are screened for safety and comfort.
(For more details about what is included in this cost, visit Global Village program cost.)
Increase your impact: Take the GV Challenge
Habitat for Humanity is accelerating its work to end poverty housing, and we need Global Village teams to help. Set a goal and fundraise to make your impact last longer than the days you’re in the field. Your support builds more homes, creates resource centers, educates families, and advances our projects to build sustainable communities. We’ll even provide tools to make fundraising easy. Take the GV Challenge—join us in sharing our story and building a better world.
Duane has served as a Habitat employee nearly 20 years. He’s currently an organizational development consultant working primarily with affiliates in community development. He lives in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia where he and his wife, Ruth, are restoring a 125-year-old home. Their family’s Global Village interest began when they took their three children to Honduras on a GV trip during their teen years. Their oldest son and his wife, Ben and Dani, will participate on this trip. Since Dani teaches Spanish at a local high school, we’ll have a very capable translator. This will be Duane’s sixth Global Village trip and fifth to Guatemala. Duane may be reached at Duanehershberger@gmail.com.