“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead
If you are seeking an opportunity to work hard, experience a new culture, expand your horizons and help deserving families in need of simple, decent housing, I hope you will apply to join this adventurous and diverse group of volunteers. Construction skills are not necessary, just a compassionate heart, a sense of humor, a willingness to get dirty and pitch in as needed, and an open mind. This team will be comprised of individuals from a plethora of backgrounds and nationalities who share a common desire to see the world, help others and enjoy life.
About Costa Rica
Costa Rica (Spanish for “Rich Coast”) is situated in Central America where a variety of historic cultures have meshed over the centuries. One of the more progressive democracies in the Americas, Costa Rica still has its share of housing needs – with nearly 700,000 new or improved housing units needed. Though Costa Rica has a fairly stable economy, large government deficits have also undermined efforts to maintain the quality of social services.
Costa Rica’s neighbors include Nicaragua (to the north), Panama (to the south), the Pacific Ocean (to the west) and the Caribbean Sea (to the east).
About Habitat for Humanity Costa Rica
Habitat Costa Rica began building in 1988, but ceased operations in 1991 with the introduction of an ambitious government housing program that gave houses to the poor. However, with large cutbacks in the government program and an estimated 35 percent of the country’s population still living in substandard housing, in 1996 Costa Rica invited Habitat for Humanity to help once again.
Since then, Habitat Costa Rica has built hundreds of homes with partner families. Today, the program is focusing on ways to reach those families that have even fewer resources, through initiatives like “progressive” housing, houses built in stages; repair, enlargement, improvement and completion of half-built houses. Habitat for Humanity International also has its area office for the entire Latin America and Caribbean region based in Costa Rica.
For more information on the Costa Rica program, visit www.habitatcostarica.org.
Types of construction for volunteers
Volunteers may assist with improvements, full-house builds or home repairs. Most Habitat houses in Costa Rica are built using cinderblock walls, tin roofs and cement floors.
Day 1 (Arrival day, typically Saturday): Greeted at the San Jose airport by Habitat Costa Rica staff; shuttles to San Jose hotel; team dinner.
Day 2 (Sunday): Breakfast; travel to affiliate location; orientation with Habitat Costa Rica staff member; tour of town; free time; dinner.
Days 3–7 (Workdays, Monday–Friday): Breakfast served before traveling to work site; daily transportation to site if needed; introduction to families, foreman and community; work site orientation; work from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. (workdays will start earlier during hot or rainy seasons); lunch on-site; free time after work to clean up; supper of typical Costa Rican food; free time for team activities and community exploration.
Day 8 (Saturday): Breakfast; free time; travel back to San Jose; free time; dinner; overnight in San Jose.
Day 9 (Final day, Sunday): Breakfast; departure.
Note: Cultural experiences with host staff during the trip may include traditional dances, market tours, recreational activities, school visits and other dining options. There will also be a farewell ceremony with partner family members on the final build day.
HFH Costa Rica will choose the team’s lodging taking into consideration our group’s size. Teams usually stay in basic, safe hotels, with team members staying two to four people per room.
Breakfast and dinner will likely be served at the hotel or nearby restaurant. Lunch will be eaten at the work site, where snacks and water will also be provided. There will be ample opportunities to enjoy traditional Costa Rican meals such as gallo pinto and casado.
(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.
Emily Fortman is a regional director of preparedness and engagement for the American Red Cross and has been affiliated with Habitat for Humanity for more than five years. She was the director of family services for Habitat for Humanity East King County for four years and served on the board of directors. She currently co-chairs Habitat for Humanity Seattle - King County's family selection committee and serves on the advisory board. This will be Emily's sixth Global Village trip (fifth as team leader.) Previous builds were in Romania, China, Chile, Cambodia and Fiji. She travels domestically and internationally often and enjoys being immersed in unique cultures and surrounded by new people, foods and sites. Emily is excited to start the holiday season in beautiful Costa Rica and looks forward to making new friends. Emily can be contacted at email@example.com