By: Emir Beganovic, CFA, Senior Product Specialist at Thrivent Mutual Funds April 02, 2019
On a recent trip to the Dominican Republic, Emir Beganovic worked with a group of other Thrivent employees to help build homes for local residents through Thrivent Builds, which has partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build dozens of homes in impoverished areas across the globe. Thrivent is the largest corporate sponsor of Habitat for Humanity.
What follows is a summary of Emir’s experience.
Boarding the plane in Minneapolis on the way to the Dominican Republic, I was a little nervous about my upcoming adventure. I had never been on a Habitat for Humanity mission trip, and I knew none of the other Thrivent volunteers who were going. But the initial bout of anxiety quickly faded as our small group formed a unique bond during what can broadly be described as an extremely mindful, memorable and fulfilling experience.
We started our trip on a Saturday in November 2018, flying into Santo Domingo, which is the capital of the Dominican Republic. The following day we did a walking tour of the city and then headed about three hours inland to San Juan de la Maguana where we were scheduled to spend the next week building homes for the local residents.
The homes we worked on were innovative yet low-tech, made of simple stacked concrete panels, which are cheap yet durable. Because of the smart design, the homes are intended to be resistant to earthquakes.
Thanks to our host, Natalie, we enjoyed a delicious dining experience throughout the week, feasting on a variety of home-cooked traditional Dominican dishes.
During our week there, we worked on two homes and had the specialized job of filling the gaps between the concrete panels with a cement mixture and then painting both the inside and outside. We were assisted by local Habitat staff and construction workers.
Of course, we made sure to take breaks from the sun and enjoy the beautiful countryside. We also had some fun along the way!
As you can see, our results speak for themselves, as we finished painting and filling the cracks of the interior and exterior of the homes during the week. (Roofs were later installed by a follow-up crew.)
Work hard play hard: Cultural team-bonding events throughout the week
The group visited cultural sites, explored the city and surrounding area.
We also got a cooking lesson on how to make a traditional Dominican dish called Mofongo.
After our week in San Juan de la Maguana, the group made it back to Santo Domingo for the last weekend. We had a chance to explore that city further and reflect on our shared experience. It is amazing what a difference a week can make. The weekend in Santo Domingo was a great capstone to our group’s transformational volunteer experience.
How to Volunteer for Thrivent Builds
Over the past 13 years, more than 700,000 volunteers for the Thrivent Builds program have built, rehabbed or repaired more than 5,000 homes in the U.S. and around the world.
If you want to volunteer to work on an upcoming Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity project, here is how to sign up:
To join a Thrivent Builds Worldwide trip, check here for current trip offerings. There are currently 14 planned trips, with both domestic and international options. Thrivent members receive a discount on the trip, and anyone can fundraise for trip expenses through a personal website provided by Habitat.
If you are a Thrivent employee, look for trip announcements and applications in the early spring on the “weThrive” website to find out about trips scheduled for the fall.
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