Written by Ben Hokenson, TECHO Volunteer
TECHO, Spanish for “roof,” is a youth led nonprofit organization that builds homes for people living in extreme poverty, as well as promoting community development, social awareness and changes in infrastructure to decrease poverty. Their ultimate goal is to rid the world of poverty. This year I had one of the most humbling experiences of my life. It took place in San Jose, Costa Rica from March 18 to the 21st. Throughout the duration of the trip, I learned new information about myself and others. The trip taught me about Costa Rica and the conditions in which many people live. I also discovered the amount of labor it takes to build a house. The trip also affected me in several ways both physically and in my mindset towards the world. A TECHO trip is one of the greatest experiences a person could have and everyone should try to go on one to not only help the world, but to learn about the ways other people live.
During the trip, I learned about Costa Rica and about the challenges that the people face, as well as, the opportunities they have. In Alajuela, the area in which we built, some of the challenges that the people face include: living in an extremely hot climate, going long periods of time without rain, and living in inadequate homes. One of the greatest challenges that the people who live there face is that their floors are made of dirt. This means that when it rains, their floors turn to mud. This can cause disease and unsanitary living conditions. Although people in Alajuela face many challenges, by partnering with TECHO, they are able to create many opportunities to make better lives for themselves. Some improvements they can make with TECHO include, but are not limited to: access to better educational opportunities, reconstruction of roads, and employment training. The main goal of this trip was to help them build their homes. Although these homes give them a safer place to live in, they are only meant to be transitional homes. The homes are a symbol of hope that give the owners motivation to create better living situations for themselves. Helping the people create their new homes affected me in ways I did not think were possible.
The TECHO trip changed me in many ways. Throughout the course of the trip, I gained a substantial amount of information. One lesson I gained came from a man named Gustavo. He told me that for any task in life, one must: “Observe their resources and apply them efficiently with a concrete plan.” I learned from Gustavo that I needed to apply that same lesson to how I conduct myself. During the building process, I also gained an appreciation for my life. I realized that I have a fantastic life. I go to an amazing school; I live in a safe and sturdy home, and I am able to do what I love. Along with gaining several lessons and a new appreciation for my life, I made many friends. What changed me most about the trip was the opening ceremony of the house. Once we finished building the house, we had a housewarming where we all spoke about how the trip affected us. By the time Marcia, the owner of the house spoke, there was not a dry eye in the place. During the ceremony, I realized how much of an impact building one house makes. I dried my eyes and said how I felt about the trip to the camera, and since then, I have been a different person. I believe that everyone should go on a building trip and gain a new understanding of the world and the challenges that many people face.
Any person that has an opportunity to do a TECHO building trip or anything of the sort should seize it without hesitation. The opportunity to do a building trip should be taken for many reasons. One reason is that those who go on a trip are contributing to the fight against poverty. The people that go on trips like this also help others start new lives for themselves. Out of the infinite number of reasons why a trip like this is so valuable, the most important one is that a person that goes on a building trip is doing something kind for another person and spreading happiness around. Most people that go on building trips are affected positively and are changed for the better for the rest of their lives. If any person came across the opportunity to do a TECHO trip, it would be wise of them to seize upon it.
TECHO is a non-profit organization that changes the world for the better and greatly influences the fight against poverty. The organization not only changes the world, but it changes the mindsets of countless people. With the goal of eliminating poverty, they have a long journey ahead of them, but if all of us can contribute to the work that they do, we can complete the journey together. We are the ones that can change the world. So why not? I believe that everyone, that is able to, should go on a TECHO trip and help change the world. We were put on this Earth to make a difference, so why not leave a lasting legacy of changing to world for the better.