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July 12, 2019

It Takes a (Global) Village

By Samantha McLean

So, what is Global Village?

Global Village is a Habitat for Humanity International program that allows volunteers from anywhere in the world to travel to developing countries to spread the mission of affordable homeownership, develop communities on a global level, and maximize the impact of our efforts.

How is Habitat Charlotte involved?

Our affiliate became involved with Global Village in 1993, when we sent our first group of staff and volunteers to El Salvador, marking the start of our international partnership. Since then, Habitat Charlotte has conducted over 65 international trips, sent 600 volunteers, and served 1,525 families funded through our tithe. In 2019, Habitat Charlotte hit the $5 million mark in lifetime tithe – the first US affiliate to accomplish this feat.

This past year, in addition to traveling to El Salvador, Habitat Charlotte sent our first volunteer group to Cambodia to serve future homeowners. We worked in the community to build relationships with the locals and immersed ourselves in their culture.

What makes Global Village trips so unique and enriching is their ability to engage volunteers in ways that are different than regular Habitat volunteer opportunities. These are impactful, eye-opening opportunities. As a volunteer, you will form bonds with homeowners and community members while there – a priceless experience. Those who return and volunteer year after year have the pleasure of watching families grow as children become young adults and form their identities. When you volunteer on a Global Village trip, you’re not just building houses, you’re building communities and developing relationships, too.

Habitat Charlotte’s Vision for Global Village

Our vision for Global Village is to make an impact on families in the realm of affordable housing in both El Salvador and Cambodia through financial support and volunteer labor. The hope for Global Village trips is to bring home advocates who will go out and speak passionately about affordable housing issues in Charlotte and around the world.

Alan Morrow: super Habitat volunteer & avid explorer.

The crew hard at work mixing concrete.

So, what it’s like volunteering in El Salvador?

The houses in El Salvador are not timber framed structures – they are concrete block construction. Everything is done by hand, whether mixing concrete, digging, moving materials, painting, or setting block. It is simply hard work! In addition to building, there are many opportunities to engage in the community. This includes chances to do a cooking classes with women from the income generation co-op that Habitat supports and interacting with homeowners and children from the community during breaks.

During the trip, there is also time for R&R. Some of the fun things that we have done in the past include coffee farm outings and tours of the capital city of San Salvador. And generally, on the last day we go to the beach and hang out.

In your own words, what is it like?

“It’s a really unique experience. In Charlotte, we are making a big impact with our homeownership program but in El Salvador, we are giving families a tile floor for the first time where their floor was dirt, or a door that locks for the first time. Now their family can leave without risking things being stolen. We’re preventing houses from flooding. There is a visual impact; typically, the existing home is on the property, so you can see a before and after.” – Rebecca Oring, Habitat Charlotte’s Grants and International Partnerships Manager

“We had the opportunity to meet people in the village, families, people in the co-ops, and other people there and we grew to love them. Now we go back every year and we’ll have to see all our friends that are there. The friends that we stay in touch with through email and Facebook allow us to watch some of the young boys grow up, go off to university, and come back. Even the translators, one recently got married and wished that we could come to his wedding. Again, you just fall in love with these people, they are just beautiful people.” Alan Morrow, globe-trotting grandfather and multiple-time El Salvador Global Village volunteer

How can I get involved?

It’s easy, we have the following Global Village trips scheduled:

  • Saturday, November 2 – Sunday, November 10, 2019
  • Potential trip: February/March/April 2020

Follow this link for more information about upcoming trips, including how to contact us:

Learn More

Taking a quick breather after moving and stacking this huge pile of concrete blocks.

At Habitat for Humanity, empowered women...empower women!

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