May 01, 2017 246

Building Homes and Hope

On February 25th, 2017, I traveled with a team of Milwaukee Habitat Young Professionals on a Habitat for Humanity International Global Village trip to El Salvador. El Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America, which as you can imagine, causes some struggles with safe and adequate housing. Habitat for Humanities' vision is "A world where everyone has a decent place to live" and their Global Village program provides people with the chance to experience another country in a unique way. Volunteers spend time with the locals and engage in many unique opportunities including building a house or many houses at a time, advocating for policy while building, disaster recovery, minor and major home repairs, energy efficiency projects and much more. The three smiling faces above are children of Habitat home owners, two of which we spent our week building their new home, and the other was their next door neighbor.

Our team of 20 Young Professionals spent a week working on two homes Ahuachapán, El Salvador. Along with building homes for two amazing families, we learned about Salvadorian culture, foods, history (including their civil war and its continued impact on the country today), gangs, economy and much more. Our time in El Salvador was a humbling experience - it's often said that Salvadorians are the nicest people on earth, and I would have to agree with that. This was my 4th Global Village trip to El Salvador, and each time I meet people who amaze me. They are the kindest most caring, generous and inspiring people you'll ever have the pleasure of meeting.

Evalia, pictured above, is an amazing woman who lives in the community we were building homes in. She took a group of 8 of us to the local market one morning to buy groceries and then taught us how to make many of the amazing Salvadorian foods, including pupusa's! If you've never had a papusa before, you're missing out.

El Salvador is a photographer's dream country. Everywhere you go the people are smiling, the colors are vibrant and the flowers are blooming. I captured over 1000 images from this trip, but not one can explain to you the feelings inside my heart, the moments are impossible to completely describe, the experiences deeply engrained in my being. I love you, El Salvador.