Welcome to Cambodia!
Everyone on the team has arrived and we didn’t waste any time getting acquainted with this beautiful county and the charms of Siem Reap. Our welcome dinner was at Madam Butterfly, one of the oldest restaurants in town and one of the few set in a traditional Khmer wooden house with beautiful gardens. The food was delicious!
As with any Global Village build, volunteers also get to enjoy learning about their host country by visiting cultural sites. On Sunday we visited the Kampong Khleang floating village. In these communities along the Tonle Sap lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, houses are built on stilts or literally float in the water. Both models allow for houses to stay dry while water levels rise during the rainy season. It’s remarkable to see how people adapt to their environment to live.
During our orientation we learned more about Habitat Cambodia and how they address the housing need here. Since 2002 Habitat Cambodia has served over 22,000 families who lack decent shelter and hosted more than 7,000 international volunteers. Habitat Cambodia has programs to build houses, engage government for land tenure security, water and sanitation facilities for communities, microlending and disaster reduction and response and mobilizing youth.
One of the most exciting aspects of this build is the houses themselves. We are working for two families this week, whose houses will be constructed on stilts and made of wood. This is a first for all of us! The houses are small, and we are hoping to finish them both by Friday. So exciting!
During our first day on the job, the tasks were varied. We were digging holes for pit latrines and footers for stairs. We laid brick and mixed mortar and concrete. We tied rebar and built forms for the pilings upon which the houses will be built. We moved bricks and notched wood (not sure what that’s for yet!). It was about 97 degrees in the shade, but we ate well, stayed hydrated and had a great time meeting our partner families and getting to know each other.
Can’t wait to share our progress!