Habitat build in Malawi

Volunteer Spotlight: Local Volunteer Builds Homes Around the Globe

Dec. 19, 2018

From Costa Rica to Eastern Siberia, Andy Rivinus has traveled the world building homes with Habitat for Humanity over the last decade.

Andy is part of a core group of construction volunteers at North Willamette Valley Habitat for Humanity, who donate their time, skills and expertise on a regular basis. When he’s not building locally, Andy helps construct homes and improve living conditions for families in need across the globe.

Since 2009, he’s traveled to the following countries/regions for Habitat: Malaysia Borneo, Philippines, Eastern Siberia, Malawi, Costa Rica, Indonesia, India, Chile and Jordan. In 2019, he’ll be in Kenya and Myanmar.

Habitat for Humanity currently works in nearly 70 countries and has helped more than 22 million people since 1976.

Andy was drawn to this type of volunteer work because it offered a way to combine his desire to travel with his desire to give back.

One of the things he’s learned from his global travels:

“That no matter how we live or where we live, we are more alike than we are different,” he said. “I think if we would spend more time focusing on the similarities instead of the differences, we would all get along much better.”

What surprised him the most was how quickly a group of strangers can bond when working for a unified purpose, like building a house for a family in need, he said.

There are major differences between building locally and building internationally. At the local level, the same group of volunteers works together for the bulk of the construction process and often for multiple homes, year after year. The homes are larger and are built to exact standards.

“Internationally, you go with a group of people, work as hard as you can to get as much done as you can, and then you disband and go home,” he said.

Local builders then complete the house, which is usually much smaller and more basic than the homes that are built here. Brick and block materials are often used because wood resources are scarce in those regions.

Story by Danielle Anderson, North Willamette Valley Habitat for Humanity

All photos courtesy of Andy Rivinus

Pasig City, Philippines

Andy and fellow volunteers worked on an apartment complex of over 400 units built on top of a landfill.


Ulan Ude, Eastern Siberia, Russian Federation

Andy and team insulated one log home and helped build another home.


Salima, Malawi  

Andy helped build two homes in this area, which is on the shores of Lake Malawi near the capital city of Lilongwe.


Buenos Aires, Costa Rica 

Andy and team helped finish the walls of a home and install the drain field.


Bali, Indonesia

Andy and fellow volunteers worked in a small village in the mountains, in the northern part of the island. They built two houses, installed septic and dug cisterns.


Near Bangalore, India

Andy and team worked in the village of Yelahanka, constructing parts of three different houses, from digging foundation to pouring lentils.


Kalilima, Malawi is in southern Malawi near the border with Mozambique.

The team built three houses made of bricks.


Santiago, Chile

The group built a fully-accessible room onto an existing house so that a boy with physical challenges could come and live at home with his family.


Bayt Idis, Jordan

Andy and fellow volunteers worked on one single family home.