Habitat for Humanity: Costa Rica, Part I

As part of UGA Costa Rica’s Housing and Household Economics Maymester program, a group of eight UGA students and two faculty members traveled to Puntarenas, Costa Rica to participate in an international Habitat for Humanity build as a service-learning component of the experience. During the four-day build, students chronicled their experiences via journal, detailing feelings and experiences related to the build.

Join us for a three-part series summarizing their endeavors.


The first day’s task could be summed up in a single word: dig.

To put up the walls required digging 37 2′ holes for reinforcement posts. Immediately, the students realized how tiring the day would be; however, the work was rewarding. Many students had comments such as “the builds at the Habitat for Humanity site was excruciating, however it was an incredible experience.”

“Knowing that the hard work we are putting in as a team will become this little family’s sanctuary is all worth it.” – HACE student

Some were in awe of the minimalistic living situation that the family would live in. Taking note of the small size of the planned house, some even had remarks such as “It’s really humbling to see people live such a simple life.” One even questioned if people in the U.S. “really need[ed] an extra bedroom, study room, two car garage, etc.”

After the first day on the build site, it was clear that the students were already grateful for the experience of building this family’s home.

With a 5′ x 5′ deep hole for a septic tank to dig, along with a 15’ long, 3’ deep trench, digging was a common activity the second day as well.

The walls of the house began to go up, put together like Legos, as one student described, with cement used to keep the frame in place. With everyone sore from the previous day’s work, students indicated relief as the day ended early with the coming of rain. Yet even with a shorter day, students were still gaining appreciation and understanding for the lifestyle of those in Costa Rica. When discussing American Families, one indicated “I do not believe a family of four like this would be totally comfortable in such a quaint house.”

Blog post contribution by Andrew T. Carswell, Jorge Ruiz-Menjevar, Ben Jacobs, Blake Bolton, Raymond Chau, Sarah Ernst, Will Johnson, Dilreet Kaur, Jessica Tante, & Amanda Vargas, UGACR HACE program members. Edited by Alex Fylypovych, UGA Costa Rica Photojournalism Intern.

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