Meet Ben Hunter! (Recycling Homes Project Assistant)
I’m from Melbourne, Australia and 29 years old. Before beginning with Habitat Argentina I was working as a comercial Architect in Melbourne for four years. At university I studied firstly Architecture and a year post-grad in Construction Management. In Australia, in my free time I like to see live music, relax and eat with friends, and surf. I do basically the same here in Buenos Aires (exchanging the surfboard and coast for a long-board and the concrete jungle).
Since I did an exchange to study in Mexico in 2005 and travel through Central America, I have had the desire to work/volunteer for a social organization here in Latin America. Due to my professional leanings, I wanted to volunteer/work with an organization whose work revolved around construction and housing. When I arrived to Buenos Aires, I applied to ‘Habitat Para La Humanidad’ and also ‘Suenos Compartidos’ (a development branch of Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo). Although, in hindsight, I wasn’t very knowledgable about Argentinian culture, I’d always had this sincere desire to live in Buenos Aires. I’m glad I acted upon it.
I am working on the ‘Recycling Places’ project in La Boca – the oldest suburb in Buenos Aires (and the country.) We are developing an exisiting conventillo (tenement building) into an block of seven apartments. I help Andres, the project leader, with the general administration of the project, the main task being the acquisition and management and selection of quotes for each of construction materials.
We also work to integrate the project into the community; for this purpose every Wednesday we work in the conventillo in La Boca. We also meet with other social organisations in La Boca to introduce our project and raise the awareness of our work and the community spaces that the development will give back to the area. In the office I work on construction guides for the volunteer brigades that work with us, and am also developing a standard set of drawings for the typical new vivienda (house).
Between my time living in Mexico, travelling through Central and now getting to know South America, I have already had many wonderful memories from Latin America. I hope to give a little back in return. I also hope to learn about the operations of an N.G.O and, finally, to improve my Spanish so that I can continue working as an architect in Argentina or other Spanish speaking countries in the future.
Meet Elana Ludman! (Brigade Assistant)
My name is Elana Ludman. I’m from Montreal, Canada and I’m 27 years old. Prior to arriving in South America, I worked for the last five years at a community organization in Montreal, called Santropol Roulant. Santropol Roulant uses food as a vehicle to break isolation and create relationships between generations. Before working there, I did a Bachelor of Commerce at McGill University in Montreal. When I’m not traveling or learning new languages, I like to ski, hike, take photos, cook and meet new people.
I decided to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity Argentina because I have always dreamed of living in Buenos Aires. I thought that this would be a unique opportunity to learn, help, and better understand the local context in Argentina. It would also be a great chance to improve my Spanish. In addition, I have always been interested in Habitat’s work because I know the importance of a safe, comfortable home. A house is one of the key foundations to ensuring health, confidence and well-being.
In my position as Asistente Brigadas at HPHA, I will be working with both local and international brigadas. Between August and December there will be brigadas in Salta, Santa Fe and Buenos Aires. Along with groups of volunteers we will build and improve houses of low-income families. My role is to help with the planning and coordination of the volunteer trips, as well as serve as a facilitator and translator when the volunteers arrive. So far, this has been a great experience and I’m already looking forward to more!
Meet Sara Elzner! (Assistant Volunteer Coodinator)
I’m 19 years old and am from Berlin, Germany. This year I finished the German equivalent of colegio (high school), where I studied, among other things, Spanish for 13 years. In my free time, I like to go out with my friends, see movies, travel, and learn more about the world. I decided to volunteer internationally because for a long time I have dreamed of doing it. I also wanted to have new experiences and learn how a nongovernmental organization works since I would like to work in one in the future!
I heard about HPH through a friend’s recommendation. I then did some research and I liked what they did and, most importantly, how they do it. I decided on HPHA because of the language. Since I have been studying it so long, I figured it was time to apply my knowledge. On top of that, I also wanted to get to know Argentina, the culture, the society, the people, etc.
My position in HPHA is Volunteer Assistant, where I help coordinate the international volunteers. I get in contact with them, interview them, and work with my supervisor Sofía to find the right role for them within the organization! I hope that from working here I can gain many new experiences that I can later apply to help me facilitate my decision with what I want to do after the volunteer experience is over. Also, I hope that my time here was beneficiary to the organization!
Meet Barbara Moreno! (International Donor Relations)
I’m from Chicago, Illinois, USA. There I worked as a corporate Visa and Passport Specialist, helping staff obtain the correct travel documentation. Before that, I was at Boston University (Class of 2010), where I was a Political Science major with a concentration in International Relations and Public Policy and a Japanese Language and Literature minor. Things I like to do in my spare time are read, write, dance, learn languages, find new music, take photos, be a foodie, be a news junkie, and shop!
I decided to volunteer abroad since it mixes my two favorite things: volunteering and traveling. I decided on Habitat for Humanity since it is an organization whose work I am familiar with in the States and an organization whose mission I agree with wholeheartedly. I picked HPH in Argentina because Argentina is a country I have been interested in getting to know really well my entire life.
At HPHA, I am in charge of International Donor Relations, which manifests itself into several duties. I look for new grant opportunities, fostering relationships with new donors, as well as maintain relations with old donors. I also help manage the blog, Twitter, and Facebook accounts of HPHA to keep donors and interested parties informed. I hope that I can help HPHA meet (or better yet exceed) its donation goals and help new people discover the great work HPHA does!