First, some general guidelines and notes:
Make sure that you can easily carry your bag- pack as light as you can!
When packing clothing for the trip, please keep in mind our daily activities: we will be working during the day (bring old clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty). Once the building portion of the day is complete, we will be eating dinner and socializing in the evenings (bring clothes other than working clothes).
Dress in layers- it can be quite cold in the morning and at night, but much warmer during the day. During the month of May in Santiago, the average high is in the 60’s Fahrenheit, and the average low is in the 40’s Fahrenheit.
Don’t forget to bring the Habitat shirt that you received with your packet!
Chilean dress code is similar to that of the United States. Business men usually wear jackets and ties. Business women tend to dress on the elegant side, in dresses or skirts/slacks with dressy blouses and jackets. They wear low or medium heels (high heels are left to social events). Public officials tend to dress like business people. Neither men nor women wear shorts in public. Jeans and informal attire are fine for sightseeing and shopping.
For the worksite:
T-shirts, including your Habitat shirt, plus some type of outerwear for layering
Pants, such as hiking pants or jeans (No shorts)
Closed-toe shoes with a hard sole (work boots if you already have them, otherwise, gym shoes are perfectly fine)
Rainjacket or umbrella
Hat and bandana
Chapstick with sunscreen
Work gloves (Gloves that have suede/leather/gripping material work best- you can find these at any Ace, Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc.)
Safety glasses (If you have wide-coverage sunglasses, those will also work. Otherwise, pick up a cheap pair of plastic safety glasses at any hardware store)
Reusable water bottle
Camera (or just use your phone)
Gatorade/Powerade powder to add to your water
Small backpack or bag to carry your sunscreen, etc. to the worksite
Off the worksite:
Casual clothes (Shirts and pants/skirts. Please note: shorts are not worn in public in Chile.)
Sweater or jacket in case it’s chilly at night
Baby wipes or make-up wipes (feels great and gets the dirt off of your face after a long day!)
First aid items (there will always be a first aid kit on site for emergencies, but it’s nice to have bandaids, tylenol, pepto bismol, etc. for yourself!)
Any medications you may need, plus a copy of your prescription
Earplugs (you will be sharing a room)
Small flashlight, just in case
Snacks- granola bars, nuts, etc.
Swimsuit, in case swimming is an option
Zip-lock or plastic bags are handy for soiled clothing/shoes
Notebook if you would like to journal
And of course, don’t forget your passport, ID, phone, and personal spending money
Bath towels will be provided. Laundry is typically available at the hotel for a small fee. If you forget an item, you can always purchase it in Chile.
What not to bring:
Anything expensive or valuable (leave your nice watch at home)
Large amounts of cash
Lastly, Habitat Chile has provided a Wish List of items needed for the construction site or the office. You are in no way obligated to bring anything from this wishlist- you are making a huge contribution already through both your work on the worksite and the donation that is part of your trip cost. However, if you do have items on this list that you would like to bring with you, you may do so. Please note that these will be given to the Habitat for Humanity office for distribution- no items are to be given to the construction crew, the families, or any one on the worksite. Some items on the list, like your safety glasses, work gloves, or unused first aid items, can be donated at the end of the build.
As you have read in your Orientation Handbook, Habitat for Humanity has a very important policy on gift-giving. You can read more below, but essentially, giving gifts can cause major disturbances in the community (even though you have the best possible intentions and may not even be aware of the effects of your gift). You joining this trip is a huge gift in and of itself! See the policy below:
Habitat for Humanity takes a very strict stance on avoiding paternalism and fostering any sense of dependency or inequality among our partnering communities. Our Habitat partners have asked that team members not bring gifts for individual families on any trip. The most well-intentioned and (from our perspective) most minor gift can often create jealousy, competition and enmity.
Habitat gives opportunities, not charity. Gift-giving creates dependence rather than a sense of responsibility and motivation. It may also lead to tensions within a community between those who receive gifts and those who do not. Habitat for Humanity has extensive experience working in these situations; the most powerful contribution you can give to the families is additional funds for Habitat to build more homes. We ask that every team member respects this fundamental principal and does not give personal gifts to any Habitat employee, family or mason. Keep in mind that even a small gift may cause jealousy: usually the gift-giver never knows it.