Thumbnail

Build Abroad

About

Build Abroad is the leader in construction volunteering trips, offering trips working on housing, schools, and disaster relief. Build Abroad feels that construction volunteering is the best way to give back to a community. Construction projects provide a physical impact in a community that will last for years. Currently Build Abroad has locations in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru and they continue adding locations every year.

You can take a trip with Build Abroad any week of the year and trips leave you plenty of free time to explore nearby destinations such as volcanoes, rainforests and beaches!

Volunteer Locations in:
* Costa Rica
* Guatemala
* Peru

Reviews

Default avatar
Sarah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Build Abroad - Cusco, Peru

Volunteer Work:
We volunteered at a construction site in Cusco, Peru. We began the ground work on a second level of a clinic in a low income area. It was rewarding, exhausting, and fun! Our leader Marco taught us many ways to improvise on the construction site with what little tools we had.

City Life:
We stayed in an awesome apartment at the top of our homestay families building. The views were unbelievable. We were within walking distance to a fun night life, amazing restaurants, and historical city streets.

Adventuring:
We took a 2 day trip to Machu Pichu via train. We hiked up the mountain once we arrived in the ancient down - and man, what a hike! (I would recommend bug spray!) We also took an ATV tour through the mountains to see the salt mines and the lagunes. Highly recommended! I've never seen anything like it, the ATVs were incredibly fun. We drove through small towns and even had to dodge pigs in the street.

Friendship:
Our leader at Maximo, Daja, was so knowledgable on the city of Cusco and very kind. We learned so much from her. Our team leader through Build Abroad, Chad, was well organized and experienced. The group we were with couldn't have been better. It's safe to say we made life long friends.

Default avatar
Alan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great time in Peru!

We had a phenomenal time! It was so rewarding and it definitely felt like our presence was appreciated by the locals. Chad organized our trip and was part of the volunteer effort. His organization and attention to detail made this as close to a VIP experience outside of working hours that one might have in a developing country. My favorite part was the trip to Machu Picchu, but the hike up to Christo Blanco in Cusco was one of the most memorable treks. I would recommend this service to anyone who is looking to give back and get away from the daily routine for just a bit.

Justin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Build Abroad - Peru - Unforgettable experience

This was my first experience doing a solo trip abroad, let alone with a Construction Volunteering Organization. I was really happy to join Build Abroad because they are a company driven by architecture graduates like myself. Many months later, because of this beautiful experience, I've decided to tailor my career towards a similar humanitarian cause.

Volunteering:
We worked on a kindergarten that was located up on the one of mountain sides of Cusco. Because of its remote location and steep terrain ( 350 steep steps to climb every day), we all had a great daily workout and were also taught to learn how to effectively use the bus system. This was so helpful for the remainder of everyone's trip. Our on site construction manager, Marco, was an amazing guy who truly knew the ins and outs of construction in his region. He was very patient with his volunteers, despite the language barriers and even brought the volunteers to play soccer and have a few beers with his buddies (shh, we don't talk about the beers. haha)

The volunteers were a mix of people from all over the world. These people were all fantastic; out for the same adventures, laughing, joking, sharing experiences, etc. Never will I forget the friends I made over there. As for the Organization, everyone made you feel at home and at ease. Any questions or complications; they were there to help. They would also come on site and visit your home stay once in a while just to see how things were. Super kind, helpful and interesting people.

Home Stay:
I lived with this very kind and artistic lady and her small dog. It was such a unique experience living with a local because you got to experience their cooking first hand, which in her case was a spin off of italian with peruvian. (So goodd) And also got to discuss about various Peruvian events and learn from the locals their favorite places to visit around the city. I met her family for dinner, and being a Canadian, they streamed a hockey game for me! I was delighted :)

Environment:
Cusco is simply astounding. It can't be compared to any other place I've been. It's historically rich, has amenities for all interests be it extreme sports, adventure, hiking, relaxing... And with a slight sense of adventure, you can visit the most beautiful sites in the sacred valley. Furthermore, the food. Oh the food... It is more than unique, but very very delicious. Finding a small local restaurant that serves Menu del Dia is a key way to save your coins and eat like a king.

I recommend this trip to anyone and would do anything to be back there myself. Regardless of your knowledge of construction, there's something in it for everyone. You're guaranteed to walk out with a smile and the feeling of having accomplished positive change.

What would you improve about this program?
Not too much to say here. It would of been cool to have a Build Abroad Tee-shirt to rep... maybe. ;)
Read my full story
Default avatar
Nicole
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

First Build Abroad Trip and Definitely not the Last

THE VOLUNTEERING
For an individual who has never done any construction work, much less volunteer work, it was a little daunting at first knowing our task was to build the initial foundation of a clinic. Rebar? Had no idea what that was. That being said, it was so simple and fun to pick up on. Our construction guide was beyond helpful; he was resourceful, energetic, and always willing to help. Not only was it a fun experience getting our hands dirty, but it was also so rewarding. The fulfilling part about construction was that we could actually SEE our work over the course of the week progress so quickly. To know that I helped build columns made with our own hands is something I will never forget.

THE HOMESTAY
Our home was incredible! Literally felt like our own little penthouse pad. Both husband and wife (and their kids) were so sweet; always smiling and helpful. On top of that, the wife just happened to be an undercover chef. Really though. I've never tasted fries and pumpkin soup as great as hers. The best part was that we felt like locals while staying at an apartment; food from the culture versus eating at a restaurant every night for breakfast and dinner.

THE GROUP
Through BA, I was part of a group of people from different states, occupations, ages, etc. And we all meshed perfectly. You get a bunch of different senses of humor all in one apartment/house and you're guaranteed to have a good time and learn a lot about one another. Nothing better than exploring a new country with a group of people who have just as much of a love for travel and volunteering as you do.

THE ENVIRONMENT
Cusco, Peru is nothing short of beautiful. The difference between where I live in Chicago and Cusco was really what I appreciated the most. A trip with BA once again showed me that simplicity is key. It was a humbling experience and definitely impactful. Cusco is home to so many fun things to do: Machu Picchu, touring Sacred Valley, finding the best pisco sour the restaurants have to offer, the list is endless. My best advice: step out of your comfort zone, do something that scares the hell out of you, learn something new about yourself and the place you go to, and be genuine about the work you do for others.

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing about the program itself- I just wish I had more time to go on a longer trip!
Default avatar
Maddie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Build Abroad!

Build Abroad was one of the best travel experiences I've had thus far in my life. From the moment we stepped out of the airport in Costa Rica, we were immediately greeted and felt extremely welcomed. Even though we only got to stay a week in Costa Rica, I felt like I made very strong connections with my fellow volunteers as well as the staff. The trip was a great balance of work vs. vacation. Working hard all week at the job site made the trip to Manuel Antonio so much more enjoyable and well earned. I felt like I got to fully experience the culture of Costa Rica staying in San Ramon as well as experience the touristy beaches of Manuel Antonio. The greatest part of this experience was how well our group worked together and how fun loving everybody was. I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to work with. I would recommend Build Abroad to anybody who loves traveling and volunteering. I'm looking forward to the next opportunity I get to work with Build Abroad!

What would you improve about this program?
I would love to stay longer at a location, so I would suggest a trip planned for a longer stay, hopefully in the summertime.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Justin Langlois

Justin is an architecture graduate from La Cité Collégiale in Ottawa Canada who plans on directing his background towards that of the development sector. On his spare time, he enjoys traveling and playing guitar in a rock group called ‘Crooked Pines’.
Thumbnail

Why did you choose this program?

I always had this lingering idea that I would some day take on the adventure of volunteering in a construction organization. Since college, I did small bouts of research on different volunteer opportunities and eventually found Build Abroad. Because their organization is driven by architects and specialized in construction volunteering, I knew they were the team I wanted to join.

I chose Peru for many reasons but one in particular was that after researching their economy and what their poverty is like, I understood that the money gained from the massive influx of tourism is mainly spent in making the environment cleaner and safer for the tourists. This said, this financial growth Peru has seen over the year does not necessarily go towards the poorer less frequented communities.

By joining the volunteer crew, I knew my efforts and money, would at least go directly towards a cause that truly needed support.

And, well... of course there’s also the more general reasons I chose Peru such as: the endless adventures within their coastal and mountainous regions, the astonishing historical aspects of their architecture and culture, the extreme sports (surfing, mountain biking, hiking), etc. And finally, I knew that I could kill two birds with one stone by accomplishing a second dream of mine - learning how to surf.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Build Abroad assisted with most of the necessities such as airport pickup, home-stay, construction project coordination, etc. Really, the only planning I needed to do was determining how to visit all the sites in the Sacred Valley and all other leisure activities (though they were glad to answer any questions or help plan these trips as well).

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

My biggest piece of advice to anyone looking to join this program is - don’t feel like you need to know the first thing about construction or have a background in any trade to be able to help.

With the slightest open mind and a nonchalance in getting your hands dirty, you’ll learn from the professionals on site exactly what you need to do and how to do it. There’s never any pressure to do anything, and if you need a break, well, no one will say otherwise. Any help is good help. Everyone’s there to have fun and to learn a skill or two that they can bring back home.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average day looks as follows:

  • Wake up around 6:30am with a few sore muscles from the day prior and have a delicious Peruvian breakfast with a fresh cup of java.
  • Catch the bus and head to your job site sometime around 8:00am (in Peruvian time, it means an acceptable 15 minutes late.)
  • Work on site doing a variety of tasks until noon. Examples of what I did: dug trenches, painted, plastered, sanded, built a stone walkway, etc.
  • After work, head back into town and have lunch with your volunteer friends.
  • From lunch on, kick around the city doing whatever you’ve planned until diner comes by around 5:00pm.
  • After dinner, go out for a drink or a random adventure until you decide to hit the bed. Repeat. Until the weekend comes and new adventures start!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issue change?

I guess my biggest fear was the original transition of living with a Peruvian family and adapting to a new culture while not speaking much Spanish.

After a few days, I ended up getting quite comfortable with my surroundings and eventually lost my fear of trying to speak Spanish. The more I spoke, the more people were happy to correct me and were patient to try and understand.

Overall, this was a fear that I shouldn’t of worried about all that much. Ideally, I should of took a class or two prior to the trip or sunk my mind into Duolingo for a handful of months prior to my arrival.

Do you have a favorite story you'd like to share?

One of my favorite stories happened on a Friday after work. The Peruvian site coordinator invited my Australian volunteer buddy and me to his small town to have a couple midday beers “el peruano” style.

I had never seen this before - we sat on the curb in front of a small corner store, asked the clerk for a small cup, bought a two liter bottle of Coke and a handful of one liter bottles of beer. While having lunch, a few of our site coordinator’s buddies and his son happened to be perusing by and sat down to join us. We were then five people sitting in a small circle.

How this works (not to promote drinking!): one person has the cup, pours in a bottom of coke and passes the coke bottle to his right; he then tops off the cup with beer and passes the beer to his right; he then takes the shot of beer & coke mix, whips the foam out on the street and passes the cup to the right.

This cup and bottle exchange went on for 8 to 10 beers over an hour and a half or so. Meanwhile, random locals were passing by and joining for a few turns, leaving, and so on. It was the most casual way of drinking, in the middle of the street, in the middle of the day.

Literally no one cared, and rather joined. We had joked with the Peruvians how we would be thrown in a cop car if we did this back home. He couldn’t believe it. Nor could we believe what we were doing.