Just months after celebrating her 10-year anniversary of working at Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Malia set out on her second Global Village Trip to El Salvador. It would be a journey of service and exploration; one to reaffirm her growth and commitment to global generosity.
After stepping off the plane in San Salvador’s high noon heat, she and her fellow Habitat travelers of board members, staff, and regular volunteers bussed into town to meet Habitat homebuyer, Edith, and her 10-year-old son, Eric. For the next eight days, their family would work alongside the Habitat team; building a sustainable home out of materials native to the region.
“Working on a house that you know they’re going to live in, in just a few months, is pretty special,” Malia said.
Each day, Malia awoke before 6 a.m. and took in the warm, morning air, reflecting on the day’s activities to come. A hearty breakfast and coffee from the hotel owner’s plantation energized the Habitat crew for the 45-minute ride to their destination. Stepping off the bus, they walked along a dirt highway toward the small construction site. There was work to be done: several volunteers dug an eight-foot trench on one side of the foundation. Malia mixed cement by hand, slowly stirring the raw minerals and water to make a volcano-shaped dome. Under the tropical sun, every hand laid bricks, shaping the sturdy walls of the modest home.
Curious passersby would stop to ask what was being built and, upon discovering Habitat’s efforts, would offer their help right on the spot. Women and men, young and old, worked alongside the Habitat crew to construct Edith and Eric’s home.
“It was such a community effort,” Malia said. “These lovely people were so willing to help and were excited that we were there.”
Even Edith’s family offered a helping hand. Her elderly parents came out every day. Eric would run over after school. After her shift at the local radio station, Edith would join in. Their family befriended the Habitat crew. Malia and Eric taught each other words in Spanish and English; along with the grandparents, the entire family traded stories of love and family.
Malia said she was overcome by the entire experience. This second trip, she held less reservations and was open to more experiences; she was reminded of human generosity and the daily gratitude of what she already possesses.
“I have clean water, I have a warm place to sleep at night, I have shelter, I have people that I love surrounding me, and that’s really all you need in life,” she said. “These people have a lot less material things and are really grateful and happy for the things that they do have. It’s a real perspective check.”
She believes everyone should take part in a Global Village trip. For Malia, it was a celebration of Habitat’s mission in full-focus: an entire community coming together to uplift their neighbor with the gift of building and purchasing their own home.
Her advice to those seeking to join Habitat on their next expedition: “Talk to people, even if you are scared or if you think you can’t cross that language barrier, there are other ways. The more you talk to people, the richer your experience will be.”