I had the most memorable two weeks in Guatemala volunteering for Constru Casa!
After 15 hours of travel from London, I arrived in Guatemala City, and was soon in Antigua in the house of my host-family, which Contru Casa had organized. My host-mother made me feel so at home and immediately we were conversing in Spanish! The following morning I was met by the volunteer coordinator and we were soon on a chicken bus to a town outside of Antigua.
I arrived mid-project and the house we were working on was for a mother and her 8 children. Every time it rained the house would flood with mud and the dirt-floor and open walls created a very unhygienic environment. Not only was Contru Casa structurally providing a house but it was clear that they were creating a real home for the family who were always around getting involved where they could.
I was immediately filling buckets and helping mix cement and it was surreal to think that I wasn’t anywhere near Guatemala the day before. The team was so friendly and inclusive. At times it was incredibly laborious- as I had expected building would be- but there were always opportunities to have a break and rest. It was really nice to be placed with another volunteer too. We traveled together to the project which was situated just outside of Antigua. Chicken buses were fun in themselves and definitely an adventure!
The excitement with the project was growing after every day of construction! You could tell how much the family appreciated the project by how constantly grateful they were to all of us. A few days later I was involved in plastering the final walls of the house. The house was complete and ready for the family to move in. Saying goodbye to them was an emotional experience.
The second house was in an area less accessible by public transport so I was collected every morning in the truck and would sit with the tools in the open air taking in the mountain views of the country. It really blew me away!
This house was just two rooms: a bedroom and washroom. It was to be the first running-water toilet for this family. It was exciting to be there from the very beginning; leveling the ground and creating the space to work from. It was so impressive how efficiently the team could put up a stable house for this family, and I learnt a lot about construction in the process; from digging the foundations to laying bricks. It took only two weeks for the whole construction.
The sweetest children entertained me with their stories and games and I hope that I’ll be able to visit one day! Through the people that I met I found it very hard and sad to leave but I would love to continue to be involved in future. The charity is clearly doing an amazing job and I left knowing that I would urge and recommend others to get involved here.
I often reflect upon the time I spent with Constru Casa and in Guatemala. To have experienced how these homes are improving the lives of some families, to have participated was in itself life-changing. It was clear that these families needed the house that we were building for them and to see the happiness and stability which a home can bring was unbelievably moving.