VOLUNTEER BUILDING HOMES
15 days departing SAN JOSE from
Destination: Costa Rica
Tour Code: VBH
Our building projects work with the Fundación para la Vivienda Rural Costa Rica-Canadá. The people from Fundación have become specialised in rural housing and they operate with a network of rural organisations, which are responsible for proposing families for a house, helping them fulfil the established requirements, advising them during the construction process and collecting the monthly loan payments. Therefore it is not a charity giving away homes but a foundation. Each project is a cooperative effort incorporating the home recipient, volunteers from inside and outside the immediate community, and the foundation. The labour contributed by homeowners and volunteers keeps housing costs affordable. Beneficiaries are in great need of simple, decent homes.
- Work on an established project to build homes for underprivileged families
- Professional travel service, preparing you for your volunteer experience
- Thorough orientation on arrival and ongoing support from the in-country team
- Access to a 24 hour emergency phone number
- Free airport pickup by an in-country representative
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included
- A portion of our volunteer project fees will also be used to directly provide practical supplies to this project through the "Big Giving" programme: cement bags, paint, tools or equivalent
Our Costa Rica trips
This volunteer program can be combined with our small group adventure trips in Costa Rica. Choose from the following tours.
We offer two-week volunteering projects, but it may be possible to extend your time on the project so please contact us if you are interested in a longer trip. In addition to the dates advertised, there may also be alternative dates available, so please contact us to enquire about any other dates. You will join other volunteers from our sister company on this project.
|Accommodation:||3 nights hostel + 11 nights homestay with a local Costa Rican family is included on a shared room basis|
Information and Itinerary
Our house building projects take place in locations within the San Ramón area (30 miles north of San José and 28 miles inland from Central Pacific beaches). Set in a scenic basin and surrounded by rolling mountains, San Ramón is one of the larger Central Valley coffee towns of Costa Rica, and has a vibrant nightlife with cafes, restaurants and traditional bars.
Projects are sometimes further afield according to the needs of the project. Dependent on the location of your project, you may need to travel up to 1 hour on a local bus to reach your project, travelling with your fellow volunteers (budget approximately US$15 per week).
Usually Monday to Friday 8am-4pm with a leisurely break for lunch. Evenings and weekends are your free time to spend as you choose. You may choose to explore the local area or further afield in Costa Rica and your host family and in-country support team will be sure to have plenty of suggestions.
Please note that the main project start date is Sunday. If you are joining a volunteer project after a tour in Costa Rica (normally ending on Friday, Saturday or Tuesday), then we can advise you on alternative joining arrangements to make sure you arrive on time and are still able to have an orientation session with the in-country team.
Day 1: Arrival into San José International Airport
If you join the project after the end of your tour, you will make your own way to the arrival accommodation (approx 1 hour transfer across San José). If you are joining the project directly from an international flight, you will be met at the airport by a member of our friendly Costa Rica team, and taken to our Alajuela hostel where you'll be spending your first two nights.
If you arrive before 6:30pm a tasty welcome dinner is provided, and the rest of your time is yours to spend as you choose - exploring Alajuela, getting to know your fellow volunteers or catching up on some sleep! The hostel is just a short distance from bars, restaurants and banks.
Day 2: Orientation
At 8:30am a member of the in-country team will pick you up and take you to our local office for orientation. This will give you a good insight into Costa Rica and our projects - the culture, things to do and see, what to do in case of an emergency, how to get to your project and much more! It is also a good opportunity to meet other volunteers and ask the team any questions you may have. You'll then be given some lunch and will have the afternoon free to explore or relax.
Day 3: Transfer to the project
Transfer from the Alajuela hostel to your San Ramón project takes approximately 1 hour, and will normally be on public transport. When you arrive you will be able to settle into your homestay accommodation and get to know your host family. Spending time with a Costa Rican "tico" family will be a great chance to experience a different culture and lifestyle. All homestays are located within a short walking distance of each other and are operated on a basis of two volunteers of the same gender sharing a room. Each bedroom has two single beds and storage space for your luggage. Basic bedding will be provided but you are welcome to bring a sleeping bag if you plan to go travelling at the weekends. We'd recommend that you bring your own padlock to keep your valuables secure. The bathrooms will be on a shared basis with the family and have running water, shower and Western style toilet.
Volunteers have stayed with these families for many years and all provide clean and safe accommodation whilst being extremely friendly. Although your new family will speak some English, you will find you enjoy your time and get more out of the experience if you remember your Spanish phrasebook and don't be nervous about giving it a try! Your new family will be keen to spend time chatting and getting to know you and we'd encourage you to get as involved in family life as much as possible.
After settling in, our in-country team will then accompany you to the building project to meet the builders that you will be working with. You will jump straight into work - so make sure you are ready to get dirty! You will finish work at approx 4pm and head home for a well deserved shower and dinner!
Day 4-6: Getting your hands dirty!
Now is the time to get stuck into work! It's a very hands-on project and depending on the stage building is at when you arrive, you will have the opportunity to get involved in all aspects of the building. You could be helping to build septic tanks (empty tanks, don't worry!), digging trenches, mixing cement and concrete, carrying materials to the building site, helping to put on roofs and lay floors, or preparing the foundations.
No building experience is needed, although any specific skills you might have would be greatly appreciated! If you have a particular skill, then don't hide it; any ideas or suggestions are welcome here. We only ask that you are adaptable and hard working. The work can be very physical and demanding but is 100% worthwhile in the long term. The project does expect you to have a reasonable level of fitness so that you are able to get involved in all areas. Building sites also might not be what you're used to seeing back home! Sometimes hands are used in the absence of machinery, and you'll be getting hot and sweaty every day, but it's all good fun and for a good cause so leave the ball gowns at home!
This is the perfect environment for anyone with a love of the outdoors and hands-on work, who wants to immerse themselves in the local community and really make a difference. You'll be working alongside local people as well as other volunteers. There is a good team spirit. The pace of life is slower than what you might be used to and it gets too hot to build around noon so work stops for a long lunch. During the rainy season, you might also expect interruptions for rain, so take a raincoat!
Day 7-8: Tico Time!
It's the weekend and time to explore! San Ramón is incredibly beautiful and full of things to do. It is also conveniently located for beaches and other tourist-friendly areas. You might like to spend some time on one of the many hiking trails around San Ramón, explore the Farmer's Market, visit a museum or the Butterfly Garden, or sign up for an exhilarating zip-line canopy tour! During the evenings you can let your hair down at a local bar or disco, or relax in a restaurant or the park if you prefer.
Day 9-13: Building futures!
Your weekdays will be spent working at the project, and your hard work will really make a difference to the local community. If you're lucky, you may be there to see a family move in to their new home which you helped to build! It is important to note that you might not necessarily see a house finished during your time here (if you do, it'll give you a great feeling of satisfaction and pride!), but you can return home or travel onwards on your journey knowing that you've contributed your part to the ongoing process; you're part of something big here.
Day 14-15: Free time and your departure
It's time to bid a fond farewell to your new friends and host family, and head back to San José or off for further adventures! On departure day you will make your own way back to the hostel in Alajuela. Directions for this are given inside the Welcome Pack you'll be given in Costa Rica.
We offer one free night in the Alajuela hostel before departure if you require (e.g. if your flight leaves early Sunday morning, you can stay in Alajuela on the Saturday night). The Alajuela hostel is also able to offer return transfers back to the airport. And don't forget that the in-country team are also there to help you if you need any advice!
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