Category Archives: Cambodia

Battambang, Cambodia (December 2018)

Recruiting for this team is now complete!  Check back soon for stories of our adventures!

Housing Need in Cambodia

While poverty has decreased significantly in recent years, many Cambodian families are hovering only just above the poverty line of US$1.25 per day.  Nearly three quarters of Cambodia’s population was still living on less than US$3 a day in 2011, according to the World  Bank.  Poverty is largely concentrated in the rural areas though urban poverty may be rising.

Habitat for Humanity Cambodia has enabled more than 18,000 families to build strength, stability and self‐reliance through innovative, durable, affordable housing solutions and human settlement interventions since 2003.  By partnering with Habitat for Humanity Cambodia, families can also receive livelihood training such as agriculture, animal husbandry, business management and other initiatives including liquid soap production and handicrafts, in order to increase daily income and family savings.

More Info

Global Village is Habitat for Humanity’s international volunteer program. Teams travel to over 40 countries to work alongside communities, build housing solutions, and experience local culture. Our goal is to change the lives of the people we serve, as well as the lives of the volunteers.

To join a team or learn more, visit www.habitat.org/gv.

About Habitat for Humanity International

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in more than 1,300 communities throughout the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.

This post contains information provided by Habitat for Humanity International and Habitat for Humanity Cambodia.  Their help and support is much appreciated.

Looking back on a great year…

It’s only a few days into 2018 and already I’m in full swing:  planning, organizing, scheming and plotting.  Haha, so many fun things coming up soon!  But before I get caught up in what’s next, I find myself looking back and thinking “WOW”.  2017 brought so many truly special moments.  Many of them were centered around my volunteer travels and none of them would have been possible without so many wonderful supporters.  Let me say that again to make sure it’s clear.  I couldn’t do any of this without YOU! 🙂

In 2017, I was fortunate enough to build homes with Habitat for Humanity Global Village teams in China, Mexico and Cambodia.  I worked with over 40 volunteers to help 3 families build safe and secure homes.  And along the way, more than 20 donors and supporters helped me to raise over $3000 to further this mission – thank you!  Truly amazing numbers.  But the numbers tell only part of the story.  It’s the special moments on these trips are what really get you.

In each location, the families, teams, building techniques and culture were extremely different.  We never knew what to expect until we arrived.  And I can honestly say that none of the trips were what I imagined as I was planning for them – they were all much better. 🙂

In China, our team of 8 volunteers worked with Mr. Long as he built a home for his multi-generational family.  Soon 13 people will be living safely here all under one roof!  You can read more about our trip to China here and see some photos of our work here.

 

In Mexico, a large team of 18 volunteers worked with Margarita – a widow who lives with her 3 daughters, 2 sons and daughter-in-law.  After her husband passed away, Margarita had to take on all of the household duties.  Life is challenging but she never complains – in fact, quite the opposite.  Margarita shared her smile with us daily and after we left, she said that she was still “dreaming about the work that was done and all the faces of the people that helped.”

    

The Big Build in Cambodia was a whirlwind of activity (read more here) and at the future homes of Sopheap and Sophary, you could feel the excitement.  Our team of 18 volunteers helped raise the walls of their homes and were inspired by their stories and outlook on life.

    

2018 will take me to many new places including (Vietnam, Jordan and Brazil) and I continue to be grateful for your support.  To those of you who have traveled around the world with me, thank you for the investment you’ve made!  But you don’t have to join a team to participate.  Whether it be a ride to the airport, a gift of tangible items or monetary donations to share with families around the world or even a message of encouragement, your involvement in this mission is paramount to it’s success and I am so thankful to have you on this journey with me.  Continue to ask questions, I love to talk about the trips!  If you want to be more involved, let me know and I’ll give you a slideshow – we can share the word together!  And remember, when you are ready – there’s always room for you on the next trip. 🙂

Just in case you’ve gotten all the way through this post and these words move you…I’m currently fundraising to help families in Brazil, Jordan and Vietnam .  Click on the country of your choice to access my fundraising page or let me know if you’d like to send any donations of clothing or other supplies. 🙂  Thanks in advance!

A BIG Build

In November, had the opportunity to lead a Global Village Volunteer Team for Habitat to Humanity to Cambodia.  What a great experience!  It was not only the first time I’d traveled to Cambodia, but also a new volunteer experience for me – out of 20+ international volunteer trips, this was my first BIG build. 🙂

What, you may ask, makes this so special and WHY, Tricia, are you emphasizing the “BIG” part of this?  Well, this was no ordinary project.  In summary – 265 international volunteers came together during the same 5 days in Battambang province to build 23 houses for deserving homeowners.  If that doesn’t qualify as BIG I’m not sure what does.

From time to time, countries who are working with Habitat for Humanity decide to put on a special event and focus their resources on helping lots of families at the same time.  It’s their way of boosting their capacity and serving as many homeowners as possible!   This event, known as a “Big” or “Blitz” Build, is not only a mechanism by which homes are constructed, but also serves to build a bigger community of volunteers.  Here’s a little bit of information from Habitat for Humanity Cambodia on this years event.

During this year’s Cambodia Big Build, 17 teams of 2-40 volunteers each from 6 different countries participated.  The largest groups came from the US, Canada and New Zealand, but volunteers from Australia, Great Britain, Hong Kong were there to contribute too!  Here’s a photo of most of the group – wow.

Because of the size of the group, the logistics were obviously very different than most of the other projects on which I’ve participated.  Instead of spending a week in the most remote corner of Kyrgyzstan, Zambia or China where few tourists ever travel, we created our own international convey descending on Siem Reap and Battambang en masse.  We spent time not just learning about the local culture, but meeting new volunteers from home too.  It was great fun!  Well…once we got going.  We arrived in Siem Reap and traveled by 14 buses for about 3 hours to reach Battambang.  Upon arrival, let’s just say the check in area was a little overwhelming…

We were welcomed to Cambodia with a dinner and presentation at the Governor’s Palace.  We learned about the work of HFH Cambodia, enjoyed a good meal, and were treated to some traditional Cambodian music and dance!

  

The next morning, it was finally time to get started building those 23 homes.  We loaded up our buses again and traveled about 20 minutes from the hotel to the work community – complete with police escort!  There was more ceremony for us before the hard work started – HFH Cambodia presented each volunteer with a traditional scarf and then we gathered in the lunch tent for another presentation.  Let’s just say that seeing so many people together in the same place at the same time for the same purpose was inspiring.

But when it really hit us all was when we were introduced to the 23 future-homeowners.  Each family sent one person to the stage and two representatives were selected to give short speeches.  They talked about how excited they were for this opportunity to own a home and how honored they were that we had volunteered to assist them.  Their stories touched our hearts and motived us even more to do everything we could over the next 5 days.

After a little more pomp and circumstance, at last we were released to work!  The 23 homes that would be built were located in two separate communities just a few minutes drive apart.  My team set off for “Site 1”.  Here we are….on our way… 

On this site, 9 houses would be built – all on the same street.  When we arrived, the foundations of the houses were complete and they also had a roof!  The roof is usually put on last but because the weather forecast included rain, local workers put them on so that we could continue our work no matter what.  No rest for the weary.

Our tasks over the 5 days included carrying lots buckets of mortar and sand as well as building all of the walls on each home.  Toward the end of the week, we also prepared the floor and plastered the walls.  The site was a buzz every day with ~100 people scurrying about.  Just looking up and down the street you can tell how hard everyone was working.

Well, we were working hard until the donut lady showed up. 😉 

Since finishing the houses by Friday was the goal, local workers helped to bring all of the houses to the same stage each evening.  On the morning of the last day, we were ready to present the homes to the families!  Everyone cleaned up their respective worksites, decorated the façade, and then (you guessed it!) held a short ceremony.  We allowed the homeowners to cut the ribbon on their home and presented them with a group photo, gift basket and symbolic key before removing our shoes and becoming their first guests.  We shared our thoughts with each other and celebrated this huge milestone together.  Here’s an example of what one of the homes looked like when we were finished: It was an emotional but exciting week and looking back, it’s amazing to think about how much was accomplished!  This was an incredible trip for many reasons and I’m so glad that I participated.  Stories of our particular homeowner will follow soon.  🙂 🙂

***Thanks to Habitat for Humanity Cambodia for hosting this event and for the group photo included in the above post.

Battambang, Cambodia (November 2017)

In November 2017, 250+ volunteers will join together to  build 29 homes during Habitat for Humanity‘s BIG BUILD in Cambodia!  Read on for more information about the project.  Details on the need for housing in Cambodia and how volunteers and donors can help are below!

Housing Need in Cambodia

While poverty has decreased significantly in recent years, many Cambodian families are hovering only just above the poverty line of US$1.25 per day.  Nearly three quarters of Cambodia’s population was still living on less than US$3 a day in 2011, according to the World  Bank.  Poverty is largely concentrated in the rural areas though urban poverty may be rising.  Habitat for Humanity Cambodia seeks to break the cycle of poverty through safe, durable, affordable housing solutions and innovations.  Since 2003, HFH Cambodia has enabled more than 18,000 families to build strength, stability and self‐reliance through innovative housing and human settlements interventions.

The BIG BUILD!

Once per year, Habitat for Humanity sponsors a “Big Build”, focusing the efforts of a large number of volunteers on one location.  For 2017’s special build, approximately 200 volunteers will join HFH Cambodia for one week in Battambang Province to build at least 15 safe, quality and affordable houses with home partner families.  Battambang is located in the northwestern part of Cambodia, approximately 300 km from Phnom Penh.  This city has 14 Districts, 102 communes and 799 villages, with approximately 235,000 households and a total population of just over 1 million.

The 15 houses will be built during this effort primarily using Compressed Earth Blocks (CEB), a building material that is made mainly from damp soil compressed at high pressure to form blocks. The CEB technology has  been developed for low‐cost construction,  as an alternative to adobe to promote the use of eco‐friendly construction materials within communities.

Government approved design of Compressed Earth Block homes
Compressed Earth Block production
Completed home from Compressed Earth Blocks

 

This post contains information provided by Habitat for Humanity International and Habitat for Humanity Cambodia.  Their help and support is much appreciated.