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Habitat Colombia Project: Renovate a settlement and build peace

November 16, 2013 to November 23, 2013

Extreme need calls for extraordinary solutions. You are invited to join Habitat for Humanity on a transformative journey to turn around an informal settlement in Colombia. You will construct houses and community resources and also rebuild your imagination for what a team can accomplish together.

This November, Habitat Sr. Vice President Dave McMurtry is leading a team of 18 volunteers to kick-start this project. We are renovating not just a house, but an entire community of displaced and impoverished families living in an informal settlement. Habitat’s project will bring security, healthy living conditions and peace to a community that desperately needs it.

McMurtry says about Colombia: “It’s the country where I first became devoted to Habitat after helping build 40 houses in partnership with victims of violence. Their lives were forever changed, and so was mine.”

This trip offers you a unique opportunity to see firsthand a widely misunderstood country, which in reality is full of hope, willpower and solidarity.

Are you ready to be part of this team of builders and peace builders? Email co-leader Flora Calderón-Steck right away to talk about joining us.

Saturday: Arrive in Bogotá.

Sunday: Welcome ceremony with Soacha community and Habitat Colombia staff; neighborhood orientation; community introduction activities.

Monday-Thursday: Construction days to work with the community on the improvement of five houses and community infrastructure. Breakfast served before traveling to work site; work from 8am-4pm with lunch on-site; free time after work; team activities and dinner.

Friday: Meet with private sector actors, partner organizations and government officials.

Saturday: Depart Bogotá or begin independent travel.

Our team’s project
Our Global Village team will be foundation-setters for Habitat for Humanity Colombia’s project. During our November trip we will:

  • Build and improve houses. We’ll work with families who are currently living in the settlement to improve houses where substandard conditions are causing serious health problems for children.
  • Get an insider’s view of economic and social development. We’ll meet with private sector actors, partner organizations and government officials to learn about their work to make Colombia a better place.
  • Improve community infrastructure. We’ll pave a community street to improve accessibility, prevent landslides, improve the inhabitants’ health and support residents in their own community efforts.

The community
Decades of conflict in Colombia have left 3.5 million families displaced and without adequate housing. Our partner families in Soacha live in makeshift houses with few legal rights. Poor conditions create health problems that keep the children sick and out of school.

Habitat is poised to make a huge change in the lives of these people. We believe that safe, decent housing is the asset that can turn their lives around—but we need your help to build it.

The project’s scope
Habitat’s project in Soacha is bigger than volunteers can accomplish, so our goal is to raise enough support to enable Habitat Colombia to continue working after we go home. Our team is committing to raise at least $30,000 for the Soacha project.

Program cost
Trip cost is US$2,500 per person, and team members will be asked to make a fundraising commitment of $2,500 per person.
Habitat for Humanity encourages team members to share their story and fundraise any portion of these costs, and Dave McMurtry will be acting as a coach to help you.
(For more details about what is included in the trip cost, visit Global Village program cost.)

Team leaders
Dave McMurtry has a history of accomplishments as a high-tech executive. He spent much of the past 15 years building technology companies whose products are used regularly by millions around the world. He joined Habitat for Humanity International in 2010 as its senior vice president of strategy. Currently, he also serves as the executive sponsor of the five-year strategic plan, now under development, for Habitat’s operations worldwide. In 2006, Dave spent six months working with Habitat in Sincelejo, Colombia, raising funds and helping to build 40 houses for the victims of violence. Today, he is applying his passion for strategy, growth, technology and nonprofits to Habitat for Humanity’s global operations.

Flora Calderón-Steck’s journey with Habitat for Humanity began 22 years ago when, as a college senior, she joined the first Collegiate Challenge build to Coahoma, Miss. She joined the Latin America and the Caribbean Area Office staff as regional volunteer coordinator in 2007. Flora has led or participated in GV teams to Chile, Paraguay, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Before coming to Habitat, Flora taught for 10 years both at the University of Pittsburgh and at St. Cloud State University. Her passion for facilitating intercultural dialogue and solidarity with the empowering efforts of local communities drives her co-leadership of this educational and fundraising team. To learn more about this special project, please contact her at

To apply for a GV trip, please follow the Application Instructions.

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