August 20, 2003 - DePauw University: Dan Ehlman is in the Peace Corps and was assigned to Habitat Paraguay as part of his Peace Corps duties

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Paraguay: Peace Corps Paraguay: The Peace Corps in Paraguay: August 20, 2003 - DePauw University: Dan Ehlman is in the Peace Corps and was assigned to Habitat Paraguay as part of his Peace Corps duties

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Dan Ehlman is in the Peace Corps and was assigned to Habitat Paraguay as part of his Peace Corps duties

Dan Ehlman is in the Peace Corps and was assigned to Habitat Paraguay as part of his Peace Corps duties



Asunción, Paraguay

Kelley J. Hall, Faculty Sponsor

Emily C. Gage, Chief of Operations

Dates: July 16-23, 2002

Destinations: Asunción, Paraguay; Foz de Iguaçu, Brazil; Encarnación, Paraguay

We arrived in Asunción early in the afternoon on July 17. We were exhausted by 4:00 and called it a night. In January, we will have all day Sunday to rest and orient ourselves to the time (1 hour ahead) and season change (summer not winter) before our work begins with Habitat Paraguay.

Habitat para la Humanidad Paraguay

The organization coordinating our visit is Habitat para la Humanidad Paraguay. As a part of the Global Villiage, the Asunción office plans the visits of many groups coming from outside Paraguay. They have set a goal of building 251 houses in one year and are planning to open two more offices in Paraguay.

A significant factor in Habitat Paraguay being a site for WTIS was Dan Ehlman. Dan graduated from DePauw University in 1999. He was involved at the Hartman Center and participated in Winter Term In Service trips. Ann Jennings, the second faculty sponsor on the trip to Paraguay, was acquainted with Dan as he was the project officer on her WTIS trip to Ridgeville, SC in 1999. Dan’s experience and familiarity with WTIS is advantageous for our team as we go to Paraguay. Dan is in the Peace Corps and was assigned to Habitat Paraguay as part of his Peace Corps duties. The bulk of the planning and organizing of our trip is done by other associates in the Asunción Habitat office.

During our visit, we met all of the staff in the Habitat: Paraguay office. Everyone was friendly and patient with our Spanish and our exhaustion. (We visited the office the afternoon we arrived.) Although there are half dozen associates in the Habitat office, we will be working with Betty Mancuello the most. Betty trains the teams (“brigadas”) for their construction work, makes the arrangements for on-site lunches, and coordinates the R&R trip to Brazil and southern Paraguay.

Betty is visiting the United States this fall as part of her Habitat: Global Village training. We are fortunate to her visit us on Parents’ Weekend. Although her English is limited, we will have people available to help translate questions and answers.

On our site visit were able to “tag along” on to the last days of a brigade from a private, all-men’s high school in St. Louis. Their group consisted of 14 students and two faculty members. In 5 days with them, we experienced a condensed version of the January trip. We spent two days in Asunción and went on the R&R portion of the trip. The whole experience was smooth, well-timed and organized. Betty and the rest of the Habitat staff do their work well.

Mailing Address:

Habitat para la Humanidad Paraguay

Cnel. Felipe Toledo 3282 y Primer Presidente

Trinidad, Asuncion


Telephone: (595) 21-299-229

Fax: (595) 21-280-572



Construction Objective: “Blitz Build” Two Houses

The objective of the construction portion of our trip is to “blitz build” two Habitat houses. All of the work will be done without construction machinery. We will be digging the hole for the foundation, moving rocks, bricks and other materials, assisting the professional masons with brick-laying, mixing cement, placing roof tiles, and if we get far enough on each house, plastering walls. This will be hard, tiring work.

Medical Objective: Public Health and Medical Clinics

The objective of the medical portion of our trip is to conduct public health or medical clinics with city and/or countryside residents who do not have access to health care. Because we do not know what types of medical professionals will be on the trip with us, we are unable to give specific details. We are likely to have a medical doctor and a dentist with us on the trip. Once in Asunción, it is also possible that we will be working with other non-profit medical organizations in their medical clinics.

Potential Sites

On July 18, we spent the day with Dan and Manuel, who is another Habitat associate and Betty’s husband, looking at potential sites and discussing details of our visit. We drove into the countryside not far from the city (7-8 miles or so), where several Habitat houses had been constructed. It seems that Citibank had help sponsor several houses, and a Habitat neighborhood was springing up. While this gave us an idea of where we might be working, the more likely site was one closer to the city.

The second potential site was 4-5 miles northwest of Asunción near the river, although we could not see from the road. The neighborhood was an interesting mix of socio-economic conditions. On one side of the street were several homes of more affluent families, with fences and nice cars. On the opposite side, which was the strip of land that banked down to the unseen river, the houses were runned-down and cobbled together. The role Habitat in constructing affordable, livable housing was clear. The husband of a Habitat family came out to greet us—it appeared that the house for the adjacent site would be for his sibling.

The neighborhood Manuel and Dan showed us has potential to be the site of our medical clinics as well. A couple blocks from one site is a school with a large playground and courtyard. In the school there will be plenty of space for the medical clinic, with waiting rooms, treatment rooms, and so on.

Having the construction and medical teams in the same area will be efficient and convenient, as transportation time will be cut down and lunch can be coordinated for both groups. On site days, lunch will be prepared by Habitat families that live nearby. This will provide the opportunity to spend time with the families and neighbors whose homes we will help to construct. Betty will instruct the people preparing the food about general dietary requirements of the group (e.g., cooking with bottled water, vegetarian options).

Accomodations: Quinta Ykuá Satí

Habitat Paraguay has an arrangement with a retreat center, Ykuá Satí, to house the various brigadas that come through. Ykuá Satí is a pleasant facility, with large shady trees (which will be wonderful in January!) and several places to relax and reflect after long days on-site. The facilities include a conference room that would be ideal for group reflection gatherings.

Ykuá Satí has different types of accommodations. In July, we stayed in a room with a private bathroom. Although there was no maid service, it could be described as “hotel” style. To reduce the cost of the trip in January, the accommodations will be “dorm” style. We will stay three or four people to a room along the same hallway, with communal bathrooms for women and men at one end. Bed linens and pillows are provided.

Ykuá Satí has a laundry service. They will do laundry for $1.00 and have it finished for the following day. The men from St. Louis said they had their laundry done about once a week.

A typical day will include breakfast and dinner at Ykuá Satí. The dining hall is large and the food is served cafeteria style by Ykuá Satí staff. The dining hall is open to all residents of the retreat center, so there is a constant flow of people from different countries and organizations. While we were there, a group from Argentina was on retreat.

Mailing Address:

Quinta Ykuá Satí

Calle Evacio Perinciollo 2150

Asunción, Paraguay

Telephone: (595) 21-600-058

Fax: (595) 21-601-230


Communicating with Folks Back Home

The phone at Ykuá Satí is the business line for the facility itself and should be used in serious situations or emergencies. The Habitat office can also be phoned in an emergency. One may or may not reach someone who speaks English at either location, so please be patient.

For everyday, “how’s it goin’?” communication with team members, it will be best for students to call or email home from an internet café or cabina telefonica (telephone office). These are small businesses that make the connections and charge customers per call (probably at least $1.00 per minute.) It is a 10-minute walk from Ykuá Satí to the nearest cabina telefonica. Sending email from an internet café is also an option. The price was around $1.00 per house. It is a 25 minute walk to the nearest internet café which happens to be next to a up-scale mall. We had no luck with telephone calling cards—going to the cabinas telefonicas are the best telephone bet.

In terms of postal service, it cost approximately $1.00 to send a postcard to the U.S. and it took about two weeks for them to arrive.


As a part of WTIS, teams take a few days at the end of the trip to relax and reflect on their visit. Our R&R site is Foz de Iguaçu in Brazil and a visit to the Jesuit Ruins in southern Paraguay. Our July visit was a whirlwind tour of these sites—thankfully, we will have a little bit more time there in January.

In Foz we will visit the nearby Itaipu hydro-electric dam, the largest in the world. Foz is also near the cataracts of Iguaçu, where more than 250 cataracts fall together to create the largest falls in the world. It is truly amazing. We will leave it to your daughters and sons to explain just how spectacular it is. One of the highlights of the R&R will be the boat ride on the river below the cataracts.

The Jesuit ruins are in southern Paraguay. They are approximately 500 years old and have been archeologically reconstructed over the last 30 years. Set in the lush, green countryside, the ruins are a pleasant day trip steeped in colonial Latin American history.

Betty says that Habitat Paraguay uses the following hotel each time a brigade visits Brazil:

Falls Galli Hotel (Hotel in Foz de Iguaçu, Brazil)

Telephone: 55(45) 522-1002

Fax: 55(45) 522-2042



It is going to be consistently hot and muggy in Asunción in January (95°F)—not unlike Indiana in its most humid days of summer. Team members should pack to be as cool as possible, but should also remain conservative. (See above.)

What to Bring

Sun block—highest protection possible.

Insect repellent.

Two pairs of heavy duty work gloves—leather.

Heavy shoes.


Shorts are acceptable. Team members should dress to minimize exposure to the sun, but also to respect the more conservative Paraguayan norms. Men should not go shirtless and women should not wear less than a sleeveless t-shirt (i.e., no spaghetti sleeves or halter tops).

Something to carry your things to the shower.

Flip-flops to wear around the “dorm”/to the shower.



Mr. Balossi Says:

Matt Balossi, the faculty sponsor of the St. Louis boys’ school group, gave us some tips that only a person completing a Habitat tour could know. They’re listed here from my journal notes, as he told them to me:

“Lots of film, journals.”

“Pictures of your family and things important to you. Share with the families.”

“Have more down time. You need to process what you’re experiencing.”

“Take time to reflect on what you’re seeing and experiencing.”

“Put your name on your socks and underwear. They do all the laundry at once and it’s hard to find your own.”

“Prep the vegetarians.” (Paraguay is a big beef-eating country.)

“Frisbees.” (Kids love ‘em!)

“Alarm clocks.”

“Waterproof boots.”

“Sturdy pants—Carhart’s painter pants from a paint supplies store.” (Matt said he had one pair of these sturdy pants and wore them each day they were on-site.)

“Radio for work-site. You might suggest students chip in $5.00 or so and buy one here that you can leave behind.”

“Don’t bother with traveller’s checks. Take an ATM card and use a credit card when you can.” (Even an ATM card is unreliable—Kelley’s didn’t work once while we were there.)

Tentative schedule:

Thursday, January 2 Officers return by 10:00 a.m.

Rest of team returns by noon

Friday, January 3 Leave for Asunción
Departure Arrival

Flight Date Departure – Destination Time Time

AA 465 1/03/03 Indianapolis – Dallas/Fort Worth 4:45pm 6:11pm

AA 963 1/03-04/03 Dallas/Fort Worth – Sao Paulo, Brazil 7:45pm 9:43pm

AA 999 1/04/03 Sao Paulo – Asunción, Paraguay 12:20pm 1:19pm

Saturday, January 4 Arrive in Asunción

Orientation, rest

Sunday, January 5 Orientation, tour Asunción

Cena de Bienvenido (Welcome Dinner)

Monday, January 6 Work

Tuesday, January 7 Work

Wednesday, January 8 Work

Thursday, January 9 Work

Friday, January 10 Work

Saturday, January 11 Work until noon—excursion near Asunción

Sunday, January 12 Excursion near Asunción

Monday, January 13 Work

Tuesday, January 14 Work

Wednesday, January 15 Work

Thursday, January 16 Work

Friday, January 17 Work/Cena de Desperdida (Goodbye Dinner)

Leave for Foz de Iguaçu

Saturday, January 18 Arrive at Foz de Iguaçu/R&R

Sunday, January 19 R&R

Monday, January 20 R&R

Tuesday, January 21 Jesuit Ruins

Wednesday, January 22 Jesuit Ruins/Return to Asunción

Thursday, January 23 Depart for Greencastle
Departure Arrival

Flight Date Departure – Destination Time Time

AA 906 1/23/03 Asuncion – Sao Paulo 6:45pm 9:39pm

AA 962 1/24/03 San Paulo – Dallas/Forth Worth 12:25am 6:29am

AA 1378 1/24/03 Dallas/Forth Worth – Indianapolis 9:34am 12:34pm

Friday, January 24 Arrive in Greencastle

Monday, January 27 Classes resume

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Story Source: DePauw University

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Paraguay; Habitat



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