<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=730207053839709&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Skip to the main content.

3 min read

Pouring Concrete, Gaining Perspective: Corey's Global Village Trip

Pouring Concrete, Gaining Perspective: Corey's Global Village Trip

Guest Blog by Corey Sauer, Twin Cities Habitat supporter

Habitat's Global Village Program offers local volunteers an opportunity to connect with international Habitat affiliates and produce tangible results for Habitat's global mission. The program was paused during the pandemic and is now preparing to relaunch with a renewed focus. Read about Corey's recent Global Village experience in the Dominican Republic.

April 2023
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Greetings from the Caribbean. I’m writing this blog from the confines of a coach-style bus that has served as a transportation lifeline during the past week, as it has whisked myself and an incredible group of people from our hotel in Santo Domingo through the chaotic snarl of island traffic to our volunteer work sites just south of the city of San Cristobal.

Light green small home in the Dominican Republic.The reason I am here in the Dominican Republic is to volunteer with Global Village through Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity (via Habitat for Humanity International). Our group is hosted graciously by the fantastic staff of Hábitat para la Humanidad República Dominicana.

My personal adventure here actually began several years ago in the form of a gentle nudge from Twin Cities Habitat’s Vice President of Resource Development, Kate Loe. Her suggestion that I would enjoy doing a Global Village volunteer trip was enticing, but the timing wasn't right for me.

Corey Sauer DR trip_Kate Loe
Corey Sauer and Kate Loe in the Dominican Republic

Cut to 2023:  Another gentle nudge from Kate informed me that Twin Cities Habitat was a part of a pilot program to re-establish Global Village trips in the quieting wake of the last three years of the worldwide pandemic. And this year, TCHFH was heading to the Dominican Republic.

After reading through the material she provided and taking in her answers to my various questions, I felt it was the right time for me to get a taste of Habitat outside of Minnesota and the U.S.

The last seven days here have been immeasurably rewarding and enlightening - from the wonderful people from Twin Cities Habitat I have worked alongside, to the dedicated on-site staff from Habitat Dominican Republic, and most importantly, the quiet and dignified grace of the local Dominican families who will be the recipients of our volunteer efforts during our trip.

Our primary task while here was to pour concrete floors in four different homes of very low-income families in villages near San Cristobal. This work is part of a much larger, long-term effort to provide 100,000 Caribbean families with concrete floors in their homes.

Interior of a small home with a freshly laid concrete floor.
Freshly poured concrete floor

The process of creating just a single batch of concrete was a combined effort between six volunteers and one to two site staff. A staff member operated the gasoline-powered cement mixer and directed a team of six volunteers to alternately hand him buckets of water he poured into the mixer; toss dozens of shovelfuls of sand, and a couple of dozen shovelfuls of gravel, into the mixer; toss in a large handful of metal fibers to reinforce the concrete when it cured; and hand the staff member three or four half-bags of dry cement powder to add to the mixer.

Volunteers pouring out wheelbarrows of concrete.
Volunteers haul wheelbarrows of concrete.

A batch typically produced 8-10 wheelbarrow loads of fresh wet concrete, which four or five other volunteers wheeled directly from the mix site to the section of the home where it would be poured at the direction of another staff member. The staff were solely responsible for the complete finishing process after all concrete was poured in the designated spaces.

Under high humidity and an unforgiving sun, we repeated this process of custom manufacturing concrete in small batches dozens of times over the course of the week, with each individual shoveling volunteer likely shoveling hundreds of pounds (if not more) of sand and gravel over the four days of work when concrete was required.

Chris Coleman carrying a wheelbarrow of concrete.

Our outstanding volunteers successfully completed the concrete floors of all four homes this week, including a few porches attached to two homes. The primary mission was fulfilled in near record time for a volunteer group! A secondary mission was also completed: painting the exterior and interior of one house after the new concrete floor had a day to harden enough for us to walk on.

Corey smiling and cleaning off a paint roller.Many of us were grateful for the break from the challenging and exhausting task of making and pouring concrete. I love to paint. I don’t mind rolling out walls or ceilings while letting my thoughts wander as music plays in the background. It was fun being able to paint a home that just received a new floor that I helped make possible.

After all of the sun, sweat, hard work, and sore muscles, I can honestly say it was pure joy to have the chance to work hard with such awesome people for such a great cause. My time spent in the Dominican Republic was not a vacation (although it was a welcome break from one of the toughest Minnesota winters in recent memory); rather, it was a chance to be of service, to have my perspective broadened about the work Habitat does internationally, and to see the reality of how other human beings live, far outside the comfort of my own privileged bubble back home in the Twin Cities.

This was a volunteer trip that allowed me to be of service to humanity that ultimately (one hopes) has made an indelible impact on my own humanity.

New call-to-action

Global Engagement, Local Connections: A Service Honeymoon Story

Global Engagement, Local Connections: A Service Honeymoon Story

Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) works in more than 70 countries worldwide. As a local affiliate of HFHI, Twin Cities Habitat has five...

Read More
Trip 2, Day 3: Global Village Costa Rica 2017

Trip 2, Day 3: Global Village Costa Rica 2017

Guest Blog by Mark K. Global Village trip participant Here I am again in (or rather near) Sardinal in a hotel in Costa Rica getting up before our...

Read More
Trip 2, Day 5: Global Village Costa Rica 2017

Trip 2, Day 5: Global Village Costa Rica 2017

Guest Blog by Dave M. Global Village trip participant So here we are at the end of day five, and it's my responsibility to write the blog....

Read More