Do you want to meet people from all over with a common goal of helping a family secure decent affordable housing? Are you looking to go someplace warmer during that dreary northern winter? After you share time with your family at Thanksgiving you will be whisked away to the beautiful country of El Salvador. Working alongside local masons and community members, this team will be part of a blitz build, which is often a flurry of activity. No Spanish or building experience is required. You will only be asked to bring an open mind and an open heart.
Children stand in the doorway of their family’s substandard house.
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 www.habitatelsalvador.org.sv.
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.
Day 1 (Arrival day, typically Saturday): Greeted at San Salvador airport by Habitat El Salvador staff; transport to accommodations.
Day 2 (Sunday): Travel to affiliate location; Free time/cultural activity; orientation and welcome.
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; free time after work to clean up; supper of typical Salvadoran food; time for team activities.
Day 8 (Saturday): Travel to San Salvador; free time/cultural activity; final team dinner.
Day 9 (Final day, Sunday): 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.
(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.
My name is Pete O’Flaherty and I will be leading my first trip to El Salvador. I have volunteered with Habitat in various capacities since 1989 and have led several trips to Mexico and Guatemala over the years. I am currently a 911 dispatcher but have worked as a high school teacher, college instructor and police officer, as well as many other jobs including building my own house in my spare time. My wife and I keep busy with two teenagers. Every Habitat trip is exciting and is a wonderful spiritual journey and I hope you will consider joining me on this adventure to El Salvador. For more information, reach me at email at firstname.lastname@example.org.