Category Archives: El Salvador


Day 3: Meet the families

The 30 minute bus ride from our lodging arrived at the work sites by 8 am.  Shortly after, we met the families who will be living in the homes that we were building.  There are two work sites and as we toured each site prior to starting work, all the family members and the local masons had a few welcoming words to say.  More on today’s work day…..dinner bell is ringing and it’s been a long hard work day.







Day 2: lost in transition

Day 2 travel.
Lesson: travel requires mucho patience.

Flight delays caused an unplanned overnight in Dallas…..while our luggage went on to Miami. A Dallas reconnaissance mission proved successful. Luggage found & rechecked to San Salvador. Our team regroups at the Miami gate, the next phase our adventure to begin soon.


Time spent waiting, waiting, and waiting has lent more time for getting to know my travel mates. Why am I surprised at the impressive personalities of those gathered for this trip? I look forward to learning & sharing more about them in future posts, truly amazing individuals.

Time to board for San Salvador. Vamos!!

departure preparations

The fundraising is complete and the final departure preparations are winding down.  Thanks to the generosity of family, friends and colleagues, we raised enough money for the trip contributions, including extra funding for special supplies that we will bring to the local families and schools.


Our Habitat for Humanity of Dane County team will be headed to Ahuachapan, El Salvador this Saturday for the Global Village build trip. We will be building homes during a 10 day program helping low income and deserving Salvadoran families. The group will build side by side with the Salvadoran families. The group leaves on Feb. 2 and returns on Feb. 10.

Our team of 23 volunteers is part of a partnership between Habitat for Humanity of El Salvador and Habitat for Humanity of Dane County.  The partnership includes awareness, financial support for housing needs in El Salvador and a three-year volunteer building program. Leadership of the two groups will meet in El Salvador to share ideas and best practices.

Habitat for Humanity of Dane County will head back to El Salvador in 2014 and 2015. Read below  or click the HFH DC links to learn more about our partnership with El Salvador.

Habitat Board approves El Salvador Partnership
Twelve El Salvador families will become homeowners in the next three years thanks to the efforts of Habitat for Humanity of Dane County. The Habitat Dane Board of Directors approved a three-year agreement with Habitat El Salvador at its July meeting. The agreement states that HFHDC will provide Habitat El Salvador $28,000 per year for three fiscal years starting in fiscal year 2013.

By fiscal year 2015, the $84,000 will construct 12 homes in El Salvador. According to the agreement, HFHDC may sponsor up to four volunteer teams per year through the Habitat Global Village Program in order to support the construction of these homes in El Salvador and to provide opportunities to interact with and learn from Habitat El Salvador staff.

John Stolzenberg, a member of the HFHDC Tithe Committee, said the committee wanted to be “more intentional” in its tithing efforts and to focus more on one country.

Habitat El Salvador, Stolzenberg said, has a strong, innovative staff, that are very well organized in their building efforts.

Ann Eaves, another committee member, added that El Salvador is growing economically and that corporations in the United States are doing more business with the country. “It’s a good fit for us,” she said.

Stolzenberg has taken or been an assistant leader for five teams of volunteers to the El Salvador in the last six years. He said the trips have been a “fun and exciting way” to reenergize himself and he’s learned a great deal about global poverty. “The trip has been much more than a Habitat construction project. To me, it’s been a real eye opener on poverty in the world.”

beyond borders & beyond architecture


A good friend and colleague recently sent a group email describing his upcoming volunteer work trip to Guatemala to help repair schools and work on stormwater projects.  Steve Wayland is a Civil engineer and I’ve had the pleasure of working with him on several sustainability projects, including the first pilot LEED Neighborhood project on a historic restoration of the old Pabst brewing complex in Milwaukee.

Steve’s Guatemala project is another great example of how we can give back using our skills and sharing our knowledge.  The irony is that we often find that we receive in return much more than we give.   Steve’s two college aged sons will also be joining him on this trip. I asked Steve if I could share his ‘beyond borders’ story about a project that is ‘beyond architecture’, he generously agreed. Below are two excerpts, one from Steve’s contact in Guatemala and the other his letter describing the trip.  Enjoy.

Here are a few notes from Steve’s Guatemala connection, Gary A. Teale, Executive Director, Avivara:

205_Don_Pancho_School_Entrance_1-3x1_p1200_900dpi_medwebviewCivil engineering projects: According to your group’s itinerary, you folks will be going to Coyolate on Monday, which as I understand it is related to a water project. Also, your group will be working for several days in the village of El Yalu. This is a very poor village with many issues around water supply, sewage, etc., so you will have an opportunity to see their situation first hand and get a better sense of the challenges facing the rural poor.

215_Study_Girl_Small_Web_viewFinal Thoughts: When we first came to Guatemala to work in the Guatemala City garbage dump, we thought that as U.S. university-trained educators, we had it all figured out and would have much to offer to the Guatemalans to help them provide a better education and life for the students here.

However, it did not take us long to come to the realization that the most important thing for us to do was to listen and learn. Only by doing that could we begin to understand the cultural norms and long-term desires of the people we were working with, and then, and only then, develop sustainable strategies for helping that were fully owned and implemented by the Guatemalan people themselves. On our website at we have a couple of articles that touch on this and that you might find interesting reading. (Look for the section in the first article entitled “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” and the second article, “What do the poor deserve?”)

Here is Steve’s  letter describing the trip and asking for equipment donations:

Hi All,    Michael, David and I have the great opportunity to travel with a group from our church- Covenant Presbyterian in Madison, WI to Guatemala in January, 2013; and work on several service and construction projects related to schools in rural areas around Antigua and Guatemala City.

Michael, David and I will also be organizing casual sports camp, giving tips on playing the sports, and/or just helping to facilitate pick-up games of soccer (what they call football), frisbee throwing/ultimate frisbee, and/or baseball/softball…with the Guatemalan children, youth and teens. .

Here’s where you all come in. 🙂   The boys and I would like to collect “gently used” sporting equipment (SOCCER BALLS, SOCCER SHOES, GOALIE GLOVES, SOCCER SOCKS, SHIN GUARDS…AND ANY FRISBEES , STANDARD, ULTIMATE, AND/OR FRISBEE GOLF TYPE) from our friends and families. We are planning to bring a couple large suitcases, with these things in them, with us to Guatemala, to give to poor families and children in the country.

Any of these items that you could send to me, or that I could come pick up, would be so greatly appreciated.

If you would prefer to send a check or give cash that I could use to purchase these items at a store like Play it Again Sports, that would also be most appreciated.

I will also be helping out with several projects and speaking with town leaders to discuss issues and solve problems related to: stormwater management/flood control, water & sewer utilities, and “sustainable” design and construction. I will have the opportunity to take a look at infrastructure and construction related issues in some of the poorer areas that we will be vesting in Guatemala. I hope to learn as much as I can from the Guatemalans; with respect to these things, while I am in the country.

Please contact me with what you’d like to donate by next Friday, January 4th, 2013.  You can email or call me anytime if you have questions or want more information on this.  Happy New Year to all of you and thanks for whatever you can contribute.

Take care,  Steve

Steve Whayland, PE, LEED AP




12/31/12 Contributions Deadline

HFHI logo        global village logo


Tax deductible contributions deadline is December 31, 2012.

As part of my Habitat for Humanity – Global Village El Salvador fundraising campaign, I’m running a half marathon, 13.1 miles, on January 20th and challenging folks to pledge toward my goal.  Would you like to pledge $1 a mile, $2 a mile, or other?  A warm thank you to those who have already pledged and contributed toward my goal of $2,000.

CURRENT: AS OF 12/12/12
$1268.40 raised
121 training miles run

$ 731.60 yet to raise
104 training miles yet to train

CONTRIBUTION LINK:  Visit the Habitat for Humanity Dane County website to make a tax deductible contribution directly toward our El Salvador trip:

1. Donate by Credit Card or PayPal: Select payment type

2.  DONATION AMOUNT: Select amount or enter amount.

3. DESIGNATED FOR:  Select  “Habitat El Salvador Partnership”

4. I WOULD LIKE TO GIVE THIS GIFT:   Select “In Honor Of”.  Enter my information and then yours. Janine Glaeser 5108 Tonyawatha Trail, Monona, WI 53716

5. Complete account information and submit.

Thank you for your support of project “architect unseen” and the February work trip to El Salvador.  It is my hope that this is only the beginning of something bigger, a campaign that will bring awareness to the unseen side of architecture where architects are using their skills to build stronger communities.

Reservations, part 2


This Saturday’s run was the hardest yet.  Mile 7, I broke down in tears, 2.5 more to go….. when did I decide that this was a good idea?  I know I can do this….but at that mile 7 moment; I had reservations.

Saturday night, a few hours after the long run, I’m out with a group of close friends.  One shares the fantastic news that her employer will match her contribution/pledge towards my run – $5 a mile baby, times two!  Wow!  I’m floored that she pledged and went to so much trouble to submit the request to her employer.  Thank you, friends, for the faith you have instilled in me, but guys, I’m feeling the pressure now.  Feet, don’t fail me now.

Same evening, friends asked if I still had reservations about El Salvador.  My response, “Of course.”  Second question, “Well, it is different than Haiti, right?”  I respond, “Well, yes – with Haiti, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, this time, I’ve no excuse.”  I remind myself, this is the right thing to do. 3 months of running every day, and I don’t even like to run.  Social life in the toilet – Friday nights early to bed and Saturday night, I’m too tired to go out.  Dating?  Maybe a lunch, but- oh, that’s right, I’ve got to go for a run over my lunch hour because I hate running in the cold DARK.

I have to ask.   Perhaps even Gandhi  or the Dahli Lama have faced a question of self…. at some time? Right?  “If you can, help others; if you can’t, at least don’t harm them,”  Dali Lama.  “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,”  Mahatma Gandhi.

Thinking back to my reservations the night before I was leaving for Haiti…. Nervous and sick to my stomach, I called my dear friend Joe, “What am I doing – what is it going to be like, can I do this?”  He responded, “you asked for this – remember. Go for a bike ride right now, you’ll feel better; tomorrow, you go.”   Friends, please, be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it.  Two months from now, in El Salvador, I’ll remember that this is what I asked for; a wise man once told me so.