Global Builders – Puerto Rico

Global Builders Puerto Rico

The Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, which means ‘Rich Port’, is a U.S. territory and its people are U.S. citizens. Puerto Rico is a place rich with history, diversity, and beauty. From the tropical beaches to the delicious food, there’s more than enough in PR to keep you fascinated.    Even in the face of heart-breaking devastation and loss, those things are still true.

In September of 2017, Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Irma followed by Hurricane Maria. Either one of those hurricanes was enough to cause significant damage, but paired together they devastated the island. It’s estimated that the damages amounted to nearly $90 billion and countless homes were destroyed or damaged.

Our initial focus has been repairing and rebuilding damaged homes on the southeast corner of the island where the storm slammed ashore. It is a rural area far from the capital that certainly was not wealthy even before the storm. Many families are living with blue tarps as roofs and are being affected by unsanitary and unsafe living conditions because of the damage to their homes. But we can help change that!

Getting Involved

There are several ways that you can get involved:

  • Donate to support this specific partner. Houses cost money to build, so any donation is always helpful!
  • Volunteer on one of our Peru Global Builders teams, which you can learn more about below. You’ll travel to Peru and get to know the local people and traditions while you partner with families to complete a home.
  • Join a virtual volunteer team, choosing to donate your travel costs instead of making the trip in person. This is the perfect way to stay involved and give back during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Major House Repair Cost: $5,000

House Sponsorship Cost: $16,000

Upcoming Trips

Click on the leader’s name to learn more about the leader and trip details. Click “Join” to apply for their trip. Have a spot reserved on a “Full” trip? Complete your registration here. Or learn about sending funds to support local labor by joining as a virtual participant.

Our teams to Puerto Rico are helping repair and rebuild homes near the town of Maunabo, which has a population of about 15,000 people. Maunabo is surrounded by beautiful beaches of blue and green water on one side, and high mountains on the other that keep it secluded from the rest of the island. It’s the very definition of an island paradise, with fruit treas and flowers dotting the lush mountainsides and the warm air softened by the ocean breezes coming in off the water only a few miles away

Our volunteers will stay and often work in a rural community on its outskirts called Calzada, which has 184 families, plus another 96 families in the surrounding area. These are families in one of the hardest hit areas of the island and are still in the midst of the long recovery process.

What is a trip like?

Each trip to Puerto Rico will be with a group of mission-minded volunteers – typically 8-20 total – who want to experience the world, meet new people, and make a difference. No skills required. Trips last 1-2 weeks and include time for R&R.

Since Puerto Rico is a US territory, no passport or visa is required for travel. Due to OSHA restrictions, all volunteers must be at least 16 years old to join a Puerto Rico build.

  • 7:00 –  Breakfast/Devotions
  • 8:00 –  Build begins
  • 12:00 –  Lunch break
  • 1:00 –  Build continues
  • 4:30 –  Finish up work site
  • 5:00 – Supper and free time for R&R

The volunteer work for the new homes being constructed involves making and pouring lots of rebar, concrete, moving construction materials, repairing doors and windows, painting homes, and more. We do not require Spanish speakers on the teams, but they are helpful. We have translators there to help relay instructions, but it helps to have a couple Spanish-speakers on the team as well.

Teams have two options for lodging: the affordable but simple guesthouses in Calzada, or the comfortable but more costly Hotel Parador MaunaCaribe. The guesthouses, though spartan, are safe and put you right in the center of the community where you’re working, giving you the chance to really connect and immerse yourself in the culture and language. The Parador MaunaCaribe has all the comforts you could ask for including AC, hot water, a pool, bar, and restaurant, laundry, and location right on the beach. Talk with your trip leader or Global Builders staff about which one your team is going to use. Most teams will stay at the MaunaCaribe while the pandemic is still ongoing.

Teams will be transported in rented vans or cars, depending on the size of the team and location of the lodging.

Exact packing recommendations vary based on lodging option. We recommend you bring your own washcloth, bug spray, sun screen, and any games you’d like for downtime. You’ll also want to bring sturdy work clothes and shoes that you won’t mind getting dirty.

Weekends are typically used for taking advantage of the local scenery and activities. There are a few beaches in the area you can spend the day at, or enjoy the nearby nature preserve and historic lighthouse. If you’d like to spend more time at your R&R activities, take a couple days to visit San Juan or make the boat trip to Vieques Island.

Trip cost will vary dramatically based on team size, duration, and lodging option. For a standard 1 week trip staying at the Parador MaunaCaribe, costs will be around $1300/person. For a standard 1 week trip staying at the Calzada guesthouses, costs are closer to $1000/person. Talk to your trip leader or Global Builders staff for exact details about your team’s budget.

Are you unsure of how to prepare for such an experience or just looking for some tips on how to be better prepared? If so, we suggest you take a look at our Trip Preparation page where you will find a lot of helpful information and links – Preparing For Your Trip!

Pricing – What’s included?

Team MaterialsFuller Center hat, t-shirt, country guidebook, fundraising guide, & more
Trip SupportEasy contact with Team Leader and Global Builders staff
Food and Drink3 meals a day provided by safe, sanitary local vendors
TransportationTo and from work sites and airport
LodgingCommunity guesthouses or beach-side hotel
Travel InsuranceContact GB staff for details
Life-changing workAlongside your teammates and the homeowners!

What happens after the trip?

Even after you return, your trip can have a sustained impact on both you and the community in which you served! 
Learn how on our Country Champions page.

Make new friends, keep the old
Lydia's finished house
Lydia's finished house

 

About Volunteering in Puerto Rico

Each trip to Puerto Rico will be with a group of mission-minded volunteers — typically 8-20 total — who want to experience the world, meet new people, and make a difference. No skills required. All trips will begin on Sunday and last 1 or 2 weeks, which will include time to take in the island’s beauty.

Since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, no visas or passports are needed for U.S. citizens traveling from the U.S. and its currency is the U.S. dollar. Please note that since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, we are currently not allowing anyone under the age of 16 to go in an effort to comply with OSHA regulations.

Learn the Basics — Area Info

Language:
Spanish (80%), English (20%)
Age Structure:
0-14 years 15.77%, 15-24 years 13.71%, 25-54 years 38.1%, 55+ years 32.42%
Population:
3,351,827 (2017 est.)
Life Expectancy:80.9 years (Male 77.6, Female 84.4)
Climate:
Average high: 90, Average low: 70, Rains about half of every month
Currency:
USD
Literacy Rate:
93.3% (Male 92.8%, Female 93.8 %)
Ethnic Groups:
White 75.8%, Black/African American 12.4%, Other 8.5%, Mixed 3.3%
Religion:
Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant and other 15%

 


More Info – Learn more about what a trip is like

Arrivals and Departures

Due to the high interest in Puerto Rico, all trips should start and end on either a Saturday or Sunday, as determined by the schedule created by the trip leader. Trips may last either 1 or 2 weeks.

The high number of teams also means that flight schedules have to follow a clearer plan. Teams need to arrive before 4:00 p.m. on the day their trip starts. There will be a single pick-up for the entire team, so coordinate your flight with your team leader to avoid long wait times.

For departing Puerto Rico, you will be dropped off at the San Juan Airport at 10:00 a.m., so we do not recommend departure flights before noon. If we have teams back-to-back and the arriving team is coming in before 10:00 a.m., they will need to wait for the staff to get there at 10:00.

Typical Day

Sample Schedule:

  • 7:00 a.m. – Wake and eat breakfast
  • 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – travel to worksite and begin building
  • 12:00 p.m. – Lunch
  • 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. – Continue building
  • 4:30 p.m. – Evening free for dinner and relaxation (Exact schedules can be discussed depending on the team’s preferences and length of stay.)

Type of work

We are focusing on making repairs to existing homes that have been badly damaged by the hurricane. That will mainly entail repairs to doors, windows, outside structure of homes, roofing, cement mixing, scraping, painting, and other jobs of that nature. We will provide necessary tools, but as with most build sites, it never hurts to bring a few small hand tools with you. Keep in mind that multiple teams often work on the same project, so be prepared to jump in at any point of the build: whether that’s at the start breaking down crumbling roofs or at the end putting on the last touches of paint.

 

Food and Lodging

Teams eat their locally cooked meals in the center of town alongside local volunteers.

Groups will be staying in homes generously lent for our use. Most volunteers will be sleeping on cots, but a lucky few will be able to use the beds available in one of the houses. There is a library/community center in town that can occasionally host larger teams and has WiFi. Food will be wonderfully prepared by locals in Calzada. For those wanting more upscale accommodations, there is a hotel about 20 minutes away in Maunabo. Lodging at the Parador MaunaCaribe is more expensive, but teams stay right on the beach and breakfast and dinner are provided by the hotel.

 

Transportation

Since the guest houses are right there in the community, some projects will be a walkable distance. If not, a van will be used to transport the group. The distance from the guest house to each work-site will vary, but it will not make for a long drive. All volunteers will be picked up and dropped off at the airport.

Rest, Relaxation, and Sightseeing

With the beautiful scenery all around, finding something to do for R&R is not a hard thing to do. Trips outside of Maunabo or to places with entry fees will have extra costs that are normally passed along to the teams. Your team leader or the Fuller Center host will make these clear ahead of time. 

Costs

Your trip fee covers food, lodging, on-site transportation including airport pick-up and drop-off, emergency medical insurance, hat, t-shirt, and a donation toward the work. See table below for more details.

7-day trips: ~$950
14-day trips: ~$1,650

Next Steps

As trips with openings become available, we post them at the top of this page. To apply to join their trip, simply click “Join” next to the trip of your choice. To request more information or be put in touch with the team leader, click the “Request more information” button at the top.

If you’re an experienced traveler or team leader, or if you have a group of your own (church, school, etc.), Propose a Trip to let us know what you might like to do!

Trip Preparation

Are you unsure of how to prepare for such an experience or just looking for some tips on how to be better prepared? If so, we suggest you take a look at our Trip Preparation page where you will find a lot of helpful information and links – Preparing For Your Trip!


Pricing – What’s Included

Trip Length:6-14 days (price varies depending on length)
Materials Provided:

-In-depth Guidebook outlining what to expect
-Pre-trip safety training
-Fundraising guide
-Option to create online fundraising page
-T-shirt and hat

Trip Support:Yes – from trip leader and Global Builders staff
Clean Drinking Water:Yes
Food:Yes – 3 meals a day are provided
Transportation:Yes – to and from the airport and work-site
Lodging Accommodations: Guest houses or hotel
Meaningful Work:Yes – led and coordinated by dedicated Puerto Ricans
Travel Medical Insurance:Yes – secondary insurance (see PR Guidebook for details)
R&R Opportunities:We’ll assist you in setting up sightseeing and cultural opportunities

 

What happens after the trip?

Even after you return, your trip can have a sustained impact on both you and the community in which you served! Learn how on our Country Champions page.