By Dustin Dresser
Just when it was thought that the world was falling apart—with the housing crisis leading to $4 a gallon for gas, a massive financial crisis and stock sell-off, a heated presidential campaign—I decided to get off the roller coaster life I was living in the United States and volunteer my time and experience in social housing projects in Costa Rica.
I have personally participated in house builds and worked in the administration of housing projects located throughout the country. I am a believer in everyone being entitled to adequate housing.
Many times, the great need in Costa Rica is not immediately visible to the unobservant. Often, those with the most need live hidden in remote areas or are tucked into the slums of bigger cities. Through volunteering with Habitat Costa Rica, I often experienced extremes in the same day. Just like the extreme climate zones of Costa Rica—where you can go from a hot steamy jungle to a cold overcast mountainous zone within an hour’s drive—you don’t have to stray too far from the main street to find the poverty that is abundant in Costa Rica.
Rice and beans have become my favorite food, soccer has become fun to watch and play, and Latin dancing is a pastime I think every country should have.
I can honestly say there is no other place that I’d rather be than where I am right now. I am grateful to have this opportunity, and I’m making the most of it. I get the most satisfaction out of volunteering—not just because I’m donating my time to help others but rather because I learn so much from the people I help.
Dustin Dresser served as a Habitat for Humanity International Volunteer in Costa Rica in 2008