Team Blog

Friday 8-July

From Patrick:
It is the morning of our last day of construction and I am sad to have this week end so quickly.  But, I am also excited to help prepare the first house for the new owners today.  I would imagine for a family that has struggled so hard for so long the idea of owning a home must rather strange and foreign.  Having met them, briefly, I keep thinking that I know of no one else that better deserves to have a house of their own.
The father has been at the site working with us.  He is very quiet but NEVER stops working.  I have noticed that he is taking care to prepare the house and is attending to certain details around the site.  It is wonderful to see him put such effort in preparing the house for his family.
We have a dedication ceremony today, early in the afternoon, that I am sure will be filled with emotions.  We have also been asked to prepare a song and dance.  If our new Cambodian friends are forced to watch me dance then I am afraid they may give back the house.
It has been such an amazing week and I find it difficult to put into words.

Thursday 7-July

From Charles:

Today turned out to be memorable for a number of reasons.  To begin with, for most of the morning we enjoyed a breeze which carried away at least some of the usual heat, although it remained blisteringly hot in the sun.

Second, as it was Ellen’s birthday we all enjoyed three rather decadent birthday cakes at lunch, which were also shared with our translators and the skilled workers, as wel as some of the local children and others.   Happy Birthday, Ellen!!  76 years young, and still going strong!

Perhaps the most noteworthy of all, however, related to how our work day ended.  We were hit by a sudden burst of extreme weather, as black clouds rolled in, acomapanied by fierce winds and followed closely by a torrential downpour. At House No.,2 we had strung up two large tarps as protection from the sun, but the winds whpped them around to the extent that the wires holding them up were broken and they begn to flap dangerously.  We ran for shelter in the house aross the street, and huddled there until the van came to pick us up. By then we were drenched.  The ride back into Phnom Penh was through floded roads and streets,along which were a few downed trees and signs.  Due to the storm and water, the usual hundrrds of motorccle wre missing, parked all the side of the road.

Before we were shut down by the weather, however, we all made some progress on the two houses. At House No. 1 the skilled workers were putting on the roof and we helped them and also did some finishing touchups to the walls.  At House No. 2 we mainly worked to finish building the side walls for the house.
This was the last full woirk day for us and I think we are all more than a little disappointed that the 5 days has gone by so fast.  We have come together as a fairly efficient team and have been able to make real strides in completing the houses.  And having seen the present living conditions for the families yesterday, there is a sense of urgency to see one of the houses completed – and a sense of unfinished busines knowing that the other will not be.

From Simone:

Today was our fourth day on the working site, it is amazing how time flies.
And actually a bit sad that tomorrow will be our last day. Thanks to the help and patience of the skilled workers we all gradually improved our construction skills and it feels like a shame to stop when we just got started.

Working with the team is great, too! It feels strange and sad  to know that we will all part ways again on sunday.

Also the  neighbors are just incredible. They always welcome us with a warm smile and thanks to our translator vasna we are able to have some verbal interaction with them.

It is simply a fantastic experience and I am so happy to participate in this.

Thank you all guys!


Wednesday 6-July

From Ikerne:

How to explain a day with Habitat for Humanity in Phnom Penh…

We’ve been here working on the site for 3 days and we already have so many unforgettable memories…

Since Monday, we’ve carried a lot of buckets of sand, we’ve laid a lot of bricks, and we’ve made tons of cement. We’ve drunk about 5 liters of water per day, and we have sweat that much as well…

And, little by little, our two houses are taking shape, with one nearly finished!

But Habitat is not only about bricks, cement and sweat…

During these last days, we’ve also tried to learn Khmer, with the patience of our kind coworkers, future homeowner families, and neighbours. We’ve been laughing about our way of doing things, we’ve been singing, taking Khmer dancing lessons (thanks to community members and coworkers), we’ve been playing with children, and we’ve made new friends.

Lots of smiles and lots of sparkles in the eyes.

The relationship between the community members and future homeowners with our team has gone from curiosity to trust, sympathy, kindness, and shared experiences.

Habitat for Humanity is a true learning and enriching experience. I can’t wait for another day of hard work, laughs, emotions, sweat, talks, cultural awareness, and fun. It is an amazing experience!

Merci a Habitat, au team et a cette population si chaleureuse et souriante pour cette incroyable experience !!!

Tuesday 5-July

More pictures are up today, be sure to check out the pictures page!

From Jonathan, Joyce, & Klara:

Hi y’all,

Sitting here having a few drinks and thought we would write about the day as we digest amazingly tasting tarantulas!! Today we continued construction on both houses, and got dancing lessons from the locals. Learning how to lay bricks is probably the hardest thing that we have done yet, but was made marginally easier after being taught the ice cream method (if you have ever layed bricks you will understand what we mean).

Unlike yesterday, the weather was improved as the sun was obscured by storm clouds meaning that it was less hot, yet we still managed to get soaked by a storm when making the trip back to the hotel after a quick visit to the supermarket for snacks and ice cream.

Once again, our good friend Raymond from Habitat Cambodia organized a shout out/song dedication on a local radio station where they specifically mentioned the Australians, but unfortunately, they did not have “men at work” which would have been a very fitting song!

Overall, today was a very productive, tiring and long day, but was certainly worth it to see the progress of the construction work 🙂

Highlight of the day:
– eating fried tarantulas for dinner (and yes, we have photographic proof!!)

Monday 4-July

A few pictures have been uploaded to the pictures page- check it out! More coming soon! (Apologies for the bad formatting, it will be fixed by tomorrow.)

Sunday 3-July

From Jess:

Everyone made it in today! As the team leader I had some errands to run before everyone checked into the hotel this afternoon, and Jonathan accompanied me. I wanted to buy a large amount of bottled water from a store around just around the corner and one block down from our hotel. So, I checked with the store to see if I could borrow their shopping cart to take the water to the hotel, promising to return it right away. (We’re so close to the store that taking a tuk tuk just seemed silly.) I asked before I started shopping, and they agreed. After I checked out, I made sure once again- the security guard even helped us get the cart down the steps (there was no ramp) and then we set off, wheeling our shopping cart down the bumpy road with motorcycles and tuk tuks blazing by.

We almost made it. Just a few meters away from our hotel, a police officer came up to our cart, looked at us sternly, and demanded that we stop right there. The language barrier posed a serious obstacle to my attempts to explain that I had permission, and he unloaded our boxes of water onto the curb and went away with the shopping cart. (I tried to explain that I could take it back instead of making him do it, but no luck.)

Luckily we were so close to the hotel that it wasn’t a problem to just carry them in- a hotel staff member even helped us. So, thus concluded our water-buying adventure. Lesson learned: don’t borrow a shopping cart, even if you have permission. Jonathan and I had a good laugh!

By this afternoon everyone had checked into the hotel, so the whole team met up for the first time to go to an orientation on Habitat for Humanity in Cambodia with Vitey, our host volunteer coordinator. We’ll be working on two houses over the next week, and we got to learn a little about each of the families that we’ll be working with- very excited to meet them tomorrow! Vitey provided us with an excellent overview- we even got to practice our newfound Khmer language skills. We had a nice dinner and went over a few logistical details, and now it’s most definitely bedtime. We leave the hotel tomorrow morning at 7:30 am to head to the worksite!

Over the evening and dinner we started getting to know each other little by little- it’s really a fantastic group of people! I am so happy to be leading this particular group, and am looking forward to learning more about everyone over our next days together!


One thought on “Team Blog

  1. Jessica Webster-Craig

    Hey fellow travellers!
    I hope everyone’s planning is going well. I just booked my flights and will be arriving early. July 1st at 10:30 PM to be exact.
    I look forward to meeting you all 🙂

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