What better way to start the new year than by doing something new? We’ve been funding Habitat home construction in Nicaragua for years through our global tithe donation, but this January we took our commitment to the next level by sending a team of our volunteers and staff to the town of San Cayetano to build houses with Habitat for Humanity Nicaragua through the Global Village program. The team spent nine days building the Vallecillo Family’s future home—and got back to Philadelphia with big smiles, sore muscles, and great stories from the service trip of a lifetime.
Here’s the Vallecillo Family’s current living situation: Melkin, his wife Hellen, and their daughters Maria (four years old) and Meyling (two years old) live in an overcrowded house with a dirt floor and decaying wood walls. Just from living there, Hellen’s severe asthma has become so bad that she can’t work. Melkin, meanwhile works 24-hours shifts every other day at a local water plant in order to support the family on his $145 monthly income.
The Vallecillo Family is not alone: 45% of houses in Nicaragua have a dirt floor, and one in five children in the country don’t live to see their fifth birthday. A durable, healthy home is critical to improving those statistics—and Habitat for Humanity provides the resources and labor that make it a reality.
Our Global Village team was honored to be part of the project. For a solid week, we worked side-by-side with Melkin and local Habitat staff, shoveling mortar, mixing concrete and raising the walls of the Vallecillo Family’s house one cinder block at a time. The house is small and simple compared to what we’re used to—two rooms, a corrugated metal roof and just 360 square feet. But it’s big enough for the family, it’s an environment that won’t exacerbate Hellen’s asthma, and it’s a safe, healthy place for Maria and Meyling to grow up.
Poverty housing is a global problem—and whether it’s in Philadelphia or Nicaragua, it has implications for us all. And at the same time, we know that Habitat’s affordable housing model is versatile and effective at improving lives in measurable ways. It takes a community to raise a Habitat house, and that’s why we’re building both in our city and abroad—because everyone needs a safe, affordable place to call home.
Scroll down for more photos from our Global Village trip to Nicaragua!