Mother and daughters bond through masonry and soccer in Brazil

When Liz Pretzinger learned about a soccer-themed Habitat for Humanity build taking place in Brazil during spring break, she thought it would be a good fit for her two daughters, 22-year-old Chloe and 17-year-old Elissa Dautch. 

Pretzinger had traveled to Portugal in 2010 as part of a Global Village team. The California resident and organic farm owner enjoyed the experience so much that she wanted to share it with her family. 

“I thought it would be a really neat build because both my daughters grew up playing soccer and have a passion for it,” says Pretzinger. “To be able to tie in soccer and building was a perfect fit for us.” 

The three women joined volunteers from Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guyana, Paraguay and the United States in Recife, a populous city on Brazil’s northeastern coast, to repair homes and also participate in soccer clinics and games with local youth. 

The idea behind this Global Village brigade, called The World Team, was to showcase how team effort is equally important in soccer and in achieving a world where everyone has a decent place to live. As the host of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Brazil was the perfect venue for the special build. 

The brigade’s efforts focused on Bomba do Hemeterio, a low-income community where 19 homeowners have benefited from a microcredit loan of 4,000 reals (about US$2,000) from Habitat Brazil to improve their housing conditions.


Pretzinger and her youngest daughter Elissa helped to build a room onto Luciano Vila Nova’s home, where his wife Claudilene can work as a hairdresser and watch over their two daughters: 11-month-old Ana Isabel and 8-year-old Pollyana Gabriele. Meanwhile, Chloe helped to put up a wall around the house that Thaciany Herculano shares with her two brothers. 

For Elissa, the build’s youngest member, her first Habitat experience was a memorable one. “It is really great to help people improve their homes,” she says. “Even though there is a language barrier, there is still a connection between us.”