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El Salvador

November 10, 2012 to November 18, 2012

Experience El Salvador’s fascinating cultures as we build hope and homes! Team leader Shelley Ulmer is looking for adventurous people to join her on this exciting and challenging trip to help people in need of decent housing. On this trip, you will help build a home for a local family and become immersed in El Salvadoran culture. Have fun and become a part of Habitat for Humanity’s fight for affordable housing! No prior construction experience or language abilities are required for this adventure (although Spanish speakers are a plus)—just a positive attitude and the desire to make a difference for a family in need of affordable housing.


Children stand in the doorway of their family’s substandard house.

Country Profile


About El Salvador

El Salvador is located in Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and Honduras. It is the smallest and most densely populated of the Central American countries. Two volcanic chains run down its center, rising from fertile plateaus that otherwise characterize the countryside.

The country’s climate is tropical; with a rainy season (May to October) and dry season (November to April). It is tropical on the coast; temperate in uplands. Daytime temperatures vary little, reaching around 86 F in November and 93 F in March and April.

About Habitat for Humanity El Salvador
Since 1992, Habitat for Humanity El Salvador has provided more than 10,300 housing solutions, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 51,500 Salvadorians. HFH El Salvador works with the central office in San Salvador and seven regional’s offices in San Miguel, Santa Ana, Sonsonate, Usulutan, La Paz, San Vicente and San Salvador.

The earthquake-resistant houses are made of concrete blocks and structural steel reinforcement. The roofs are made of fiber-cement sheeting, and the floors of cement brick. They have two bedrooms, a living room, a dining room and a latrine or toilet. Windows are shutter type, protected by steel bars in order to provide adequate lighting, ventilation and security.

For families who are unable to afford the standard model, there is another housing option called the “progressive model.” Depending on the family’s future resources, these houses may be extended and improved in stages. This model is available in two sizes: a 40 square meter construction area (US$8,000) or a 30 square meter construction area.

For more information, visit

Types of construction for volunteers
Global Village volunteers may work in all stages of construction, from digging foundations 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.

On the work site, volunteers will find portable bathrooms and designated resting areas with drinkable water. The team will be supervised by technical advisors and construction experts and they will present written construction goals every day. Each volunteer will be provided with a pocket-sized contact card plus emergency and evacuation plans.

Standard itinerary
(9-day itinerary)
Day 1 (Saturday, November 10): Greeted at San Salvador airport by Habitat El Salvador staff; transport to accommodations.
Day 2 (Sunday, November 11): Free time to rest; orientation and welcome.
Days 3–7 (Work days, Monday–Friday, November 12-16) Breakfast served before traveling to work site; work from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. with lunch on-site; free time after work to clean up; supper of typical Salvadoran food; time for team activities.
Day 8 (Saturday, November 17): Travel to San Salvador; free time; final team dinner.
Day 9 (Sunday, November 18): Departure day.

Note: Trip includes special events throughout the week: cultural experiences with host program, such as traditional dance, agricultural and architectural tours, typical food preparation – as well as a farewell activity.

Habitat El Salvador will determine the best lodging option for Global Village teams. Work teams usually stay in hotels, retreat centers, or dorm-style accommodations that are basic, safe and clean. The team will stay two to four people per room. Typically 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.

Program cost
(For more details about what is included in this cost, visit Global Village program cost.)

Build a better world: Take the Global Village Challenge
Habitat for Humanity International is challenging Global Village volunteers to make an even greater impact on the global issue of poverty housing. We are asking all GV teams to help us raise an additional $1.1 million in the coming year to support Habitat’s building projects worldwide. Take up the challenge! Join us in sharing our story and building a better world!

Team leader

Shelley Ulmer is an adventurous person who has led Global Village trips to Malaysia, Chile, Fiji, Indonesia, Kenya, New Zealand and Trinidad and Tobago. Shelley enjoys watching UFC, participating in obstacle/mud runs and trying all sorts of new things, including skydiving, kayaking, bungee jumping, canyon swinging, parasailing, etc. She is very excited about creating a diverse group of dynamic team members and leading this trip to El Salvador. For more information on this trip, please send an email to Shelley at

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

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