Category Archives: The Americas

Gran Bretaña, El Salvador (May 2022)

We’re going to El Salvador! Two team leaders means twice the volunteer power – and twice the fun!

El Salvador, is the smallest Central American country yet with a popluation of 6,090,646 ( est.), it is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.  Approximately 700,000 Salvadorans are in need of decent, adequate housing. An estimated 30.7% of the population lives below the poverty line and over 40% of the rural population lives in homes with dirt floors and impermanent wall materials. Within the last few years, the local goverment has been instrumental in helping families obtain full ownership and title to the land where they reside. However, many Salvadoran families continue to struggle to survive while living in dilapidated housing subject to natural disasters such as flooding, mudslides and earthquakes.

The Fuller Center has been building in El Salvador since 2008 and has completed over 350 homes in communities throughout the country.  Our specific project will take place in the community of Gran Bretana, San Martin municipality, just outside San Salvador.  We will assist partner families as they build two-story homes of about 600 square feet with 3-4 small bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and an indoor shower with flush toilet. They will be made of blocks with simple metal roofs. The partner families will repay the cost of building the homes using no-profit, no-interest loans.  A decent home has been shown to improve numerous health measures, educational outcomes, and a family’s overall well-being.  Our team is excited to make a difference!

If you would like to make a financial contribution to this project, please do so here. Your generosity is appreciated!

About the Global Builders Program

Global Builders is The Fuller Center for Housing’s short term volunteer program, sending teams on domestic and international home-building trips, where partner families help build the homes and then will repay the cost on a no-interest basis to help more local families. All trips are hosted by our trustworthy Fuller Center covenant partners around the world, who love having volunteers join them in serving God by partnering with the poor. 

For more information or to join a team, visit https://fullercenter.org/global-builders/.

About The Fuller Center for Housing

The Fuller Center for Housing, faith-driven and Christ-centered, promotes collaborative and innovative partnerships with individuals and organizations in an unrelenting quest to provide adequate shelter for all people in need worldwide. Their foundational principles include the beliefs that: We are part of a God movement, and movements don’t just stop. We have been called to this housing ministry; we didn’t just stumble into it. We are unashamedly Christian, and enthusiastically ecumenical. We aren’t a church but we are a servant of the Church. We are faith-driven, knowing that after we’ve done all we can do the Lord will help finish the job — something that requires us to stretch beyond our rational reach. We are a grass-roots ministry, recognizing that the real work happens on the ground in communities around the world through our covenant partners — so a large, overseeing bureaucracy isn’t needed. We try to follow the teachings of the Bible and believe that it says that we shouldn’t charge interest of the poor, so we don’t. Government has a role in our work in helping set the stage, but that we shouldn’t look to it as a means to fund the building of homes.

To learn more, visit https://fullercenter.org.

Maunabo, Puerto Rico (August 2022)

We are heading to Puerto Rico! What a great way to wrap up the summer, doing some meaningful work with like-minded souls in this community.

The Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, which means ‘Rich Port’, is a U.S. territory and its people are U.S. citizens. Puerto Rico is a place rich with history, diversity, and beauty – from the tropical beaches to the delicious food.    Even in the face of heart-breaking devastation and loss, those things are still true.

In September of 2017, Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Irma followed by Hurricane Maria. Either one of those hurricanes was enough to cause significant damage, but paired together they devastated the island. It’s estimated that the damages amounted to nearly $90 billion and countless homes were destroyed or damaged.

The Fuller Center for Housing Puerto Rico works to repair and rebuild damaged homes on the southeast corner of the island where the storms first slammed ashore. The largest town in this area, Maunabo, has a population of about 15,000 people and is surrounded by beautiful beaches of blue and green water on one side, and high mountains on the other that keep it secluded from the rest of the island. Volunteers work and stay in a rural community on the outskirts of town called Calzada, which has 184 families plus another 96 families in the surrounding area – all of whom are still in the midst of the long recovery process. It is a rural area far from the capital that certainly was not wealthy even before the storm. Many families are living with blue tarps as roofs and are being affected by unsanitary and unsafe living conditions because of the damage to their homes. But we can help change that!

About the Global Builders Program

Global Builders is The Fuller Center for Housing’s short term volunteer program, sending teams on domestic and international home-building trips, where partner families help build the homes and then will repay the cost on a no-interest basis to help more local families. All trips are hosted by our trustworthy Fuller Center covenant partners around the world, who love having volunteers join them in serving God by partnering with the poor. 

For more information or to join a team, visit https://fullercenter.org/global-builders/.

About The Fuller Center for Housing

The Fuller Center for Housing, faith-driven and Christ-centered, promotes collaborative and innovative partnerships with individuals and organizations in an unrelenting quest to provide adequate shelter for all people in need worldwide. Their foundational principles include the beliefs that: We are part of a God movement, and movements don’t just stop. We have been called to this housing ministry; we didn’t just stumble into it. We are unashamedly Christian, and enthusiastically ecumenical. We aren’t a church but we are a servant of the Church. We are faith-driven, knowing that after we’ve done all we can do the Lord will help finish the job — something that requires us to stretch beyond our rational reach. We are a grass-roots ministry, recognizing that the real work happens on the ground in communities around the world through our covenant partners — so a large, overseeing bureaucracy isn’t needed. We try to follow the teachings of the Bible and believe that it says that we shouldn’t charge interest of the poor, so we don’t. Government has a role in our work in helping set the stage, but that we shouldn’t look to it as a means to fund the building of homes.

To learn more, visit https://fullercenter.org.

We are Waiting for you at Home

Nope….not at my actual home….welcome to Bolivia! I arrived here via blue skies with views of the most beautiful water I’ve seen from the air in a long time. I mean, come on. 🙂

And now, I’m excited to be volunteering with Habitat for Humanity Bolivia outside Santa Cruz de la Sierra in support of their special project, “We are Waiting for You at Home.”. This project supports families with children suffer from chronic diseases and/or disabilities. The goal is to expand and improve existing homes in order to provide a safe, healthy environment for the children to recover and thrive once they return home from the hospital. How could this not be amazing?!

We have just met our partner family. Jassmin is 15 years old but has already had 4 surgeries for retinoblastoma. She also suffers from hyperthyroidism, a speech impediment and an intellectual disability which leaves her with the mental age of a 6 year old. The good news is that she is an amazing, happy, funny, kind, giving kid AND her cancer is in remission, woohoo! The bad news is that in order to achieve this success, Jassimin’s eye was removed. When doctors attempted to place an artificial eye, her body rejected it and it too had to be removed. They hope to try again in the future – more surgery to come.

In the mean time, Jassmin lives with her mom and her two sisters, age 16 and 18 in a one crowded room with limited ventilation. Here they are during our introductions. Cute (Jassmin on the left). 🙂

These girls have had a difficult life. When their mom, Ana Maria, took Jassmin to Argentina for treatment, she had to abruptly return home when she received news that her neighbors were attempting to steal her land. And in an extremely unfair twist, their mom, Ana Maria, is also undergoing treatment for skin cancer. And just this week she was diagnosed with lung cancer. You would never know it to talk with her, this is a strong woman who loves her family fiercely and is so excited for this opportunity to improve her home.

We’ll be working side by side with this family for a week to help them achieve their dream of home ownership. I can’t wait to get to know them better and become a part of their family. <3

In April, I’ll be returning to Bolivia to again work on the “We are Waiting for you at Home” project! I’m currently recruiting teams for La Paz and Cochabamba. If you’re interested in providing financial support for families such as those of Ana Maria, please use the links here and here. Every dollar counts, ¡muchas gracias!

**Information included in this post was provided by Habitat for Humanity Bolivia. Their support is much appreciated.

Another “First”

When I began volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in 2012, it was a fun way to help others, travel, meet new people and get away from the stresses of work. I never could have imagined just how it would change my life! Since that first trip to Eldama Ravine, Kenya SO many volunteering “firsts” have happened for me. Some were significant (like the first time I witnessed and appreciated the real, true, tangible impact of safe, durable shelter on a families life*), some I prefer to forget (the first time I shared an outhouse with 300+ cockroaches!) and some were just plain unexpected (the first time I was offered a mouse kabob). 🙂

It’s now time for another “first” – next week is the first time I’ll be volunteering with a team comprised solely of people to whom I’m related! While I call them all “my cousins”, technically only one of them falls under that title…but it’s close enough to describe how special they all are to me. We are setting off for Sonsonate, El Salvador where we’ll be working as Global Village volunteers for one week with Habitat for Humanity El Salvador.

During the week, we’ll be assisting a family of 3 to build their own home. Carlos has been the owner of a bakery for 4 years. His wife Wendy is in charge of the baking, and Carlos goes out in the area around the community where they live to sell it each day. They are currently renting a house where they live with their 6 year old son Jonathan. We’re going to meet them in a few days and I can’t wait! Here is their photo with their parents.

I’m so grateful for all of the “firsts” that I’ve had the opportunity to experience as a result of volunteering. Thank you for your support and for sharing the joy with me!

* Follow this link to learn about how safe shelter changes lives.

Nayarit, Mexico (March 2019)

A team of volunteers from Cape Cod, Massachusetts joined together to travel to Mexico to help families achieve their dream of owning a safe, durable home in March, 2019.

In Mexico, more than 50 percent of the population live in conditions of poverty, and with 59 percent earning less than three minimum wages per day, many lack the means to buy or build adequate housing. In Nayarit alone, 121,000 people live in poverty and 227,000 don’t have access to electricity, drinkable water or sewer systems.

Since 1989, Habitat for Humanity Mexico has fought poverty through adequate housing, supporting and empowering more than 57,000 families in organized communities.  Despite the progress that has been made in providing housing in recent years, more than 53.3 million people in Mexico do not have the financial means to buy or build adequate housing (45.5%).

Family income has been losing purchasing power: 60.6 million people (51.6%)earn incomes below the welfare line, which are insufficient to acquire the goods and services they require to meet their most basic subsistence needs.  Of this population, 15.9 million people (13.6%) live in homes with dirt floors, roofs made of tin, cardboard or debris, walls made of mud, reeds, palm or sheet; 24.9 million (21.2%) have no access to basic services of potable water, drainage, electricity and fuel for cooking or heating food. In addition, more than 538,000 families live in overcrowded conditions.

Habitat for Humanity Mexico works to combat poverty, supporting low-income families in building their homes; promoting community development through influencing public policies; attracting public and private resources for housing and sensitizing governments, donors and volunteers on the human right to live in adequate housing.

Global Village is Habitat for Humanity’s international volunteer program. Teams travel to over 40 countries to work alongside communities, build housing solutions, and experience local culture. Our goal is to change the lives of the people we serve, as well as the lives of the volunteers.  To join a team or learn more, visit www.habitat.org/gv.

About Habitat for Humanity International

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in more than 1,300 communities throughout the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.