ARS & Habitat for Humanity visit the Dominican Republic

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Our General Manager Kelly Furtado and her daughter Taylor went to San Juan de la Maguana of the Dominican Republic with Habitat for Humanity. Their goal was to assist with the builds of two homes for very deserving families and to experience the culture. The trip was not an easy one, but it was worth every back ache and drop of sweat. It required a lot of determination, hard work, and perseverance.

The volunteer team consisted of people from all over the USA, including New York, Massachusetts, Washington D.C., Arizona, Michigan, Texas, and Rhode Island. Even though they were from different places, they had a common goal and interest. The group was there to help build homes and learn about the culture with Habitat for Humanity, but the team ended up building more than homes; they built everlasting relationships.

During the build, the team had very minimal tools, but they made the most of it. Their tools included: shovels, three wheelbarrows (that soon turned into two), a cement mixer, a smoother and a broom for cleanup. Their transportation consisted of two vans, one of which broke down and they had to squeeze into the other van (what a sight to see).

On days one and two: Kelly, Taylor, and the team had to shovel and dig. The team was unable to get a picture of the original pile, but it was up the hill, down the street, and across the road. They had to use the wheelbarrow to get it to this spot. The group had to pour the concrete for the foundation for house one. Once the concrete was all poured, it needed to be smoothed out.

On days three and four: This included more shoveling and pouring foundation that was a mixture of stone and concrete for the second families home. The team had gone to the “factory” to fabricate the walls for the houses. To make the walls, they had to pour the cement into these forms, smooth them out, place a sheet of metal on top, and clamp them down. The walls had to be laid out to dry, which takes approximately 30 days. These walls were for the next volunteer group to use on another build. Once they had the walls, they were ready to bring them to the site.

On day five: The team could now start to bring in the walls. Each wall form weighed over 100 lbs.; to carry them, two people had to lift. The walls were ready to be put into place in these metal forms, and as you can see in the pictures below, it’s starting to look like rooms. For one of the houses, the volunteers added on: a bathroom, living room, kitchen, bedroom, and a porch. They also put plumbing in the home, which is a luxury in some countries.

On day six: they were all able to relax and take in the smell of the ocean and feel the more than welcomed breeze. The scenery was stunning. The landscape of the Dominican Republic can only be compared to a painted work of art. San Juan de la Maguana is the capital municipality of the Dominican Republic. It is the largest city in the San Juan province.

The team had experienced the culture of the Dominican Republic through food, dance and sight seeing. The volunteers were able to learn how to make a local dish called Mofongo. This dish consisted of plantains that you cut, fried, mashed, fried, mashed and filled with various items including shrimp or pork rinds. They learned how to do the Salsa, Merengue, and Bachata. These three dances are all standard dances in the Dominican Republic. There were many churches in San Juan including the Cathedral San Juan Bautista. Kelly and Taylor were able to go up to the steeple of the Cathedral San Juan Bautista. While the group was there, they were able to see the caverns called Los Tres Ojos (the three eyes). The Los Tres Ojos is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Dominican Republic.

We take having homes for granted every day; we never really think about not having our home. We go home every day and can relax. Now imagine not having any of this. Imagine being exposed to the elements and possibly wildlife. Many people in the world are in need of shelter, and Habitat for Humanity is helping people regain a sense of security, one home at a time.

Kelly’s favorite part of the whole experience was: being able to spend time with her daughter due to her being away for college, learning about the culture, and being able to put her heart and soul into helping someone in need.

Do you have an old or unneeded car, truck, boat or other vehicle sitting in your driveway, or taking up space in your garage? Consider donating it to Habitat for Humanity through Cars for Homes. Not only will you be helping Habitat provide decent, affordable housing, you might be helping the environment as well.

If  you are interested in joining Habitat for Humanity by donating your vehicle to the Cars for HomesTM  program, please click HERE. You can also visit them on the web at or call 1-877-277-4344

San Juan de la Maguana

  • Population: 169,032
  • San Juan de la Maguana is the capital municipal of the Dominican Republic.
  • The Three Eyes (Los Tres Ojos) is a 50-yard open cave that is made of limestone, and is one of the biggest tourist attractions.
  • San Juan de la Maguana’s main source of income is through livestock and agriculture.
  • The Dominican Republic is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Caribbean.
  • Many of the meals that the Dominican people prepare/serve consist of plantains.
  • Mofongo is a dish that is made with plantains that are picked while they are green, fried, mashed, and fried again with salt and water. You can also add ingredients such as pork, chicken, beef, seafood, and vegetables.
Kristina WilliamsARS & Habitat for Humanity visit the Dominican Republic

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