Global Village Offers Opportunity to Build Affordable Housing in Guatemala
Did you know that you can be part of Our Towns Habitat’s global reach by joining our team for a Global Village trip to Guatemala? Next year’s trip, set for April 21-29, will celebrate Guatemala’s 100,000th housing solution.
Habitat for Humanity Guatemala is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, helping low–income families improve their living conditions by building new homes, establishing housing communities, stabilizing and improving existing homes, and offering other affordable housing solutions such as smokeless stoves, water filters and sanitation services.
Habitat’s Global Village program provides local Habitat affiliates an avenue to support the worldwide need for affordable housing in a hands-on way. Each year, Our Towns Habitat sends a team of staff and volunteers to Guatemala to build affordable housing solutions.
Habitat Guatemala partners with families by offering homeowners affordable mortgages, thus providing families with the opportunity to improve their overall quality of life. Our goal is to have all Guatemalan families inhabiting safe and adequate homes. Since 1979, Habitat Guatemala has provided nearly 100,000 housing solutions for more than 350,000 people.
Our Towns Habitat also consistently supports the global vision of a world where everyone has a decent, affordable place to live by tithing a percent of our revenue to Habitat Guatemala each year.
Historically, the average cost of the Global Village Trip has ranged from $1,200–$1,600 per person, not including air fare. If you are interested in this trip, please email Director of Operations Denise Copeland or Director of Homeowner Services Lareka Knox for additional information.
About The Author: Madison Seals is a rising sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is majoring in Editing and Graphic Design. She has been a volunteer with Our Towns Habitat for Humanity from a young age, supporting the organization through fundraising efforts before she was even old enough to volunteer on a build site.
Our Towns Supports Affordable Housing Abroad
A group of Our Towns Habitat supporters are giving up the comforts of home this week to help Guatemalans have the comfort and security of their own home. This past Saturday, a team of 11 left for an 8-day mission trip to Antigua, where they are building a home for one Guatemalan family, as well as building latrines and smokeless stoves to improve housing conditions for other families.
At the core of Habitat for Humanity’s mission is the belief that everyone deserves a decent, affordable place to live. We work to meet that need through our local affiliates, such as Our Towns, who serve the neighborhoods where we live.
Even at the local level, though, we still work to fulfill the global mission. Our tithe program directs a percentage of unrestricted revenues to our partner affiliate in Guatemala. In addition to that financial support, Our Towns tackles the need for affordable housing in a hands-on way through Habitat for Humanity International’s Global Village program, sending a team of staff and volunteers to Guatemala every year to work on build projects.
Director of Operations Denise Copeland and Director of Family Services Lareka Knox are representing the Our Towns Habitat staff for this year’s trip. They are joined by other Our Towns volunteers and board members.
Both Copeland and Knox have been on Global Village trips to Guatemala before, and they say it helps reinforce to them the mission of their daily work with Our Towns Habitat.
“It’s a tangible experience for me, as I can see the immediate impact we are having in their lives,” Copeland said. She points out that Guatemalans do not have access to the same government support services and programs as are available here in the United States, which makes their work vitally important. “I always go there to be God’s hands and feet, but I always come back feeling like I was the one most blessed.”
Knox experienced a health scare on last year’s trip, but she is returning this year despite that, because she believes God has called her to be there, and will give the health and energy she needs to do the work. She says the trip helps her open her heart to people of all cultures.
“This trip reminds me that we are all different, not just in the way we look, but we have different ways of seeing and doing things,” she said. “Observing the culture in Guatemala expands my mind to consider ways I’ve never had to consider before. Even though we are all so different, we all have the same feelings, hopes and desires.”
The Global Village team will return to the United States this Sunday, exhausted but knowing they have helped build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. The team members appreciate prayer from other Our Towns supporters while they are abroad. We also invite you to support affordable housing here and abroad through a donation to Our Towns, which can be made in just a few minutes online.
Reflections on my Trip to Guatemala
By Lareka Knox, Director of Family Services
Often, stories about mission trips focus on the physical aspects of the trip, like the work that the team did. Having recently returned from my second Global Village trip to Guatemala, I’d like to instead share how the trip affected me and why it was truly a life-changing experience.
Last year, during my first trip to Guatemala, I experienced first shock, then sadness, then even anger that people actually lived in such poverty. Because of this, I wasn’t able to fully engage in the experience. This time, while the pervasive poverty was still heartbreaking, it instead made me feel determined and resolved to do more. This transformation, in turn, gave me the space to be present, live in the moment, and absorb everything the Guatemalan culture had to offer.
Similarly, I returned with renewed appreciation for all my many blessings. Some Guatemalans do not have things we just take for granted, like hot water and indoor plumbing, and the trip served as a reminder to be grateful for all the advantages I have been given.
The trip also pushed me beyond my comfort zone and made me realize that I am stronger, both physically and mentally, than I ever imagined. In this, the Guatemalan people set a powerful example; they persevere despite adversity. So not only did I help build latrines, carry cement blocks up a steep hill, and dig trenches, I faced and overcame a personal health crisis that arose on the trip.
Finally, I have built lasting relationships that span geographic, economic, social, and cultural borders. In fact, since my return, I have been in communication with the family with whom we worked during the trip. Through social media, she said, “The doors to the house are always open for all of you. May God bless you.”
Our Towns Habitat Team Carries our Mission across an Ocean
On April 9, a team of 17 people from our local Habitat of Humanity, including four staff members and I, boarded a plane to spend 10 days working to build homes, community and hope in Guatemala. This is our story.
The trip wasn’t easy. Hauling sand and rock up a four-story hill, one bucket at time, tested our muscles and squeezed our lungs. But more painful was the sight of so much poverty. According to one guide, more than two-thirds of the nation’s 17 million people live in poverty.
Six-year-old Natalie and her family, with whom we had the opportunity to work, are just one example of the widespread poverty. Initially, Natalie stayed close to her mother, but during the week, she bravely stood closer to us. She played games and taught us how to say words like “circle” and “sunshine” in Spanish. By the last day, Natalie had made us part of her family.
We came back as family too. Working together to build walls for someone else broke down any walls that stood between us. We laughed together, comforted each other when we hurt and shared a week full of memories that none of us will ever forget.
Our Towns Habitat for Humanity and Habitat for Humanity of Guatemala have a deep, long-standing relationship. In 1987, Our Towns Habitat sent a tithe check for $1,139 to build one home in the war-torn country. Now, nearly 30 years later, Our Towns has given a total of $2,217,041 to provide over 623 housing solutions in Guatemala.
On the day we boarded the plane for our return trip to the U.S., I overheard a stranger in the airport ask a member of our team, “How long will you keep going to Guatemala?” The team member replied, “Until everyone in this beautiful country has a decent place to live.”
I pray that others will join us next year as we plan to continue building in Guatemala.
Yours in Christ,