5 Days… I can’t believe that’s all it took to build a home for a family in Cambodia!
The words home sweet home have a nice ring to it, don’t they? I can announce that I am officially home safe and sound from my trip with Habitat for Humanity in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
There are so many things that I associate with the word home. My heart, my loving husband, my Bean cat, safety, my serenity, my comfort. I cannot imagine my life without having my home and all the feelings associated with it.
I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to give the gift of home to another family, all thanks to the support and donations from people like you! Your contributions and support allowed my team and I to build a 4 x 6 brick home for a well deserving mother, her children, and her grandchildren. Makes you really count your blessings, right?
On this build, myself and twelve other volunteers lived and worked in a small village located west on the outskirts of Phnom Penh city. We partnered and worked alongside of local artisans and the future homeowners. We mixed, shoved, and carried mortar, moved and laid piles and piles of brick, bucketed and poured concrete floors, dirt, sand, and we hammered on an aluminum roof.
Not once did I ever feel unsafe or outside of my comfort zone. Okay, maybe once when I had to use the squatty Potty and let the door cracked because their was no power to be able to see anything. HA HA! That is a whole other story in itself, I’ll spare you this time. The village that we built-in was so friendly and always waved and smiled at as. Everyone popped by the site to tame their curiosity and practice using their best English vocabulary to say “hello”! We had two wonderful translators on site, and one supervisor that we nicknamed BN. Sorry, somethings have to remain left unspoken and in Cambodia. Use your imagination…wink,wink.
The children quickly warmed up to our group and eventually learned our work schedule. My heart eagerly looked forward to every morning knowing that when our work vans were pulling in, those kids would be running alongside or up to us to greet us with the biggest grins and sparkles in their little eyes. You could feel how genially excited they were that we were giving them individualized attention. These children had next to nothing, some not even fully clothes, yet they were the happiest and strongest children I have ever met. Another thing that I was absolutely taken back by was, the children would try their hardest to work alongside of us. Mimicking our brink or bucket lines that we formed to get items quickly from point A to B, helping us collect trash, trying to be helpful and bring a tool they would find somewhere. I learned so much from that village in such a short time frame that will stick within me for the rest of my life.
On the last day of the build, we held and attended a ceremony that presented the family with the keys to their new home. After every member of the build took a snip of the red ribbon, the homeowner took the last snip with the scissors and cut completely through to finalize the ribbon cutting ceremony event. We were all invited to remove our shoes and come into the home. Once we were inside we were asked to say something to the family on our experiences during the build. It was incredibly emotional. What a journey it had been for all of us. We all came from such diverse backgrounds, we all were in search of something different when it came to reasons we were volunteering for the build. However, one thing that bonded us and linked us together in that very moment was the prayers, well wishes, and our hearts all filled with thankfulness and fulfillment for the family.
The words thank you will never ever truly be enough to express what I feel…but for now they will have to do. So, thank you all!!!
Ah! I still cannot believe WE BUILT A HOME IN 5 DAYS!! I hope that I never come down from the high this trip provided my soul. I don’t know about the rest of my team, but I’m ready for my next build!
Please feel free to check out the remaining photos from my trip. You will find photos of the Royal Palace, Independence Monument, National Museum of Cambodia, Wat Phnom temple, Toul Tum Poung Market, our river cruise down the Mekong river, various foods that I loved (too bad they didn’t share the same love back for me), The killing fields, Genocide museum, and the Cambodian traditional weaving house.