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.
The fourth and final day brought feelings of accomplishment and reflection.
In four days, the group had dug holes for sewage and the frame of the house, and erected the walls that would eventually house a family. Students felt the impact of their work, with one saying:
“We started off with a flat land of dirt and throughout the course of four days built a house that will be able to provide not only shelter, but a place where a family will be able to create memories.”
Final reflections drew comparisons between Habitat work abroad vs. in the States.
The differences between Habitat for Humanity builds in Costa Rica and the United States are immense in the details, yet similar in a broad sense. In Costa Rica, the work was much more labor intensive, with less volunteers and more physically exhausting work. This is most likely due to the lack of heavy machinery available in rural Costa Rican areas, whereas tasks such as digging holes would not be done manually in the United States. In addition, the basic materials used in Costa Rica, mainly cement, differ vastly from the wood and nails used in U.S. Habitat for Humanity builds. This is likely due to the cost and availability of materials. Also, natural factors, such as increased rainfall and natural disasters such as earthquakes, affect the type of materials that should be used in building homes. While there are many differences, there are still similarities among builds in the two countries. The impact of Habitat for Humanity on both the family and community are large, as made apparent when talking with the family. Also, the experience of building a house for a family in need is one that everyone benefits from, as they gain perspective on how difficult some of these people’s lives can be.
Hear about and see the project from the team’s point of view!
Thanks to Federico (Ricky) Saltalamacchia (UGACR Maymester student) for putting together this video interview!
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.