August 30, 2011
Habitat for Humanity International CEO, Jonathan Reckford, talks about his recent trip to Nicaragua, where he spent a week building alongside Habitat partner families in the La Gallina community.
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (August 30, 2011) – “I don’t think I have ever worked harder on a job site,” said Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford. He was referring to the recent Hope Journey trip he made to Nicaragua with his son, Alexander. Hope Journeys are unique travel experiences that provide participants an opportunity to help transform communities across the globe. In addition to working alongside Habitat partner families, the teams meet with community, government and business leaders to gain a better understanding of the challenges of poverty and the transformative work of Habitat.
The Nicaragua team included a small group of three families who had received personal invitations from Reckford.
“We urge family members to come along and experience a world they likely have never seen,” said Reckford. “Last year we worked alongside families in Zambia who had amazing stories, and our time in Nicaragua last month really caused this team to pause and reflect.”
Team members were humbled by the commitment of the families to work so hard and by the warmth and affection the families extended. “They have inspired us to use our own light to make the world a better place,” said one team member.
Vittoria Peñalba, Resource Development manager for Habitat for Humanity Nicaragua , said that the gracious hospitality is characteristic of Nicaraguan communities. Lesbia Morales, a member of one of the partner families, said that she was surprised to see God’s love so deeply manifested in the volunteers. “These people have traveled far distances to share their time with my family and me,” she said. “I will always remember them with love.”
The team worked alongside masons and community members to help build two “improved adobe” homes in the La Gallina community. They also spent time learning about some of the underlying issues of poverty and inadequate housing and explored possible solutions to housing challenges.
Reckford said there is tremendous value in getting out onto the worksite and spending some extended time with partner families. “Experiencing firsthand the realities of what it is like to live day in and day out in substandard shelter is humbling,” he said. One person commented on how grateful she was for the low-pressure, cold shower that she was able to take at the hotel after a day of hard work. She was joined by other team members who spent a quiet moment reflecting on what it meant to live in one of the dirt floor shacks with no running water.
“There were many positives on the trip,” said Reckford. “We visited a school where the children drew pictures of the kind of community they wished La Gallina could become. I have a couple of those pictures that I will treasure.”
Frank Matus-Aguirre, Habitat for Humanity Nicaragua’s national director, said that establishing solid partnerships with the private sector, the international community, the government, nonprofit organizations and foundations will enable the country program to achieve its goal of serving the most vulnerable families of Nicaragua.
About Habitat for Humanity Latin America and the Caribbean
Habitat for Humanity first opened its doors in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in 1979, and has since helped more than 100,000 low-income families to access adequate housing in the region. Headquartered in San Jose, Costa Rica, the Latin America and Caribbean regional office coordinates the efforts of 16 national organizations, as well as unique partnerships throughout the region. For more information, visit habitatlatino.org . 
Learn more about Habitat for Humanity in Latin America and the Caribbean.