A Global Village in Cartagena, Colombia


Habitat for Humanity Colombia hosts four international volunteer teams in Ararca, on Cartagena’s Barú Island.

BOGOTÁ, Colombia (January 20, 2012) – Barú Island (or Isla de Barú) is located in Colombia’s Cartagena district, southeast of the city. To get there, you must either travel by sea or take a ferry across the canal. The Island is known for its breathtaking white sand beaches, transparent waters, mangrove-lined channels and multicolored coral reefs.

Ararca is a small, impoverished township of Barú Island, with 1,250 residents crowded into 245 homes. Its economy is primarily based on fishing and motorcycle taxis.

Throughout 2011, Habitat for Humanity Colombia hosted four international volunteer work teams in Araca, the first of which included 23 volunteers from the Cabo Bacalao Presbyterian Church and Habitat Yakima Valley in the United States. The teams were organized by Habitat International’s Global Village program.

“This has been a fabulous experience— through the work that we have done together, the community has provided a great example of commitment and gratitude,” said volunteer Gustavo Carvajal, a Colombia resident living in Washington State.

In November and December, two teams from Canada, the United States and Scotland helped to improve a community health center. Working alongside construction supervisors, the volunteers helped to dig trenches for sewage lines and other tasks, and spent ample time playing with the local children.

“The Habitat volunteers spent two weeks helping to renovate the health center, which is very important for community because it was not in conditions that were appropriate for use,” said Moisés Morales Hernández. “Thanks to this support, we will have an adequate place that can attend to our needs. Everyone will have access to basic health services.”

The first team was lead by Paul Van Ast, who had previously participated on a Global Village trip to San Andres Islas. The second team was lead by Sonya Sirrs.

Another volunteer, Mark O’Sullivan, commented, “This is the second time that I have participated in a Global Village trip. The first was a Utopia… it was a marvelous experience and the staff is fantastic. I never thought that I would be in Cartagena, and I am happy to be here. Thank you for the opportunity.”

About Habitat for Humanity Latin America and the Caribbean
Habitat for Humanity first opened its doors in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in 1979, and has since helped more than 100,000 low-income families to access adequate housing in the region. Headquartered in San Jose, Costa Rica, the Latin America and Caribbean regional office coordinates the efforts of 16 national organizations, as well as unique partnerships throughout the region. For more information, visit habitatlatino.org.

Learn more about Habitat for Humanity in Latin America and the Caribbean.