Cambodia Big Build 2019

Jun 24, 2020
In November 2019, 90 volunteers from New Zealand, the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, Australia and Portugal took part in the Cambodia Big Build. The build aimed to raise awareness and support for the importance of having decent shelter through building strength, stability, and self-reliance. Mark Berryman, a long time supporter of Habitat for Humanity New Zealand, led the team of Kiwi volunteers. Volunteers worked alongside nine Cambodian families, to build safe and decent housing in Sambour village, Pouk district, constructing 9 homes in just 4 days! All the families moved into their new homes on the final day of the build. One of these families was Sai’s. Sai’s old family home (right), and her new family home (left). For new homeowner Sai, feeling safe and secure made all the difference. Her old thatched house had no door. “Before, whenever we heard strong rains and winds, my children and I would get out of the house and stay in the field until it stopped,” said Sai, a 32 year old labourer. Now, she and her family can stay indoors when the weather gets worse. What’s more, her daughter and son can now study comfortably at home. Sai says “both are studying hard.” The volunteers’ efforts were recognized by Ly Samrith, Siem Reap’s Deputy Governor. By partnering with the families to build new homes, the volunteers were helping to reduce the future homeowners’ living expenses, he said. Siem Reap, in the northwest of Cambodia, attracts over 1 million tourists annually to the Angkor Archaeological park. Nonetheless, it is among the poorest provinces in Cambodia, according to a 2011 government report. Habitat for Humanity has been working in Siem Reap since 2007 to improve the lives of about 20,000 families through affordable housing, clean water and safe sanitation. Habitat Cambodia’s Bernadette Bolo-Duthy said “working to improve the housing conditions of vulnerable families will in turn allow them to build their resilience against disasters, and help create an enabling environment that sets them up to develop further.” During the build, the homeowners’ enthusiasm was matched by the volunteers’ dedication. Pictured below, volunteers celebrate as they dedicate the homes to their new owners, a moment they are sure to never forget. Text and image credit: Habitat for Humanity Cambodia