Making things happen in Cambodia March 5, 2018

Canoe in water Cambodia

Posted in on March 5, 2018

Monday, March 5, 2018

Day ONE at the job site, and my team is already making things happen 🙂 Seriously, I could’t be any more proud! After 20+ hours of flying, a long road journey, and just one sleep, we were up bright and early to get to work. It took me just a few hours to personally reconnect to the impulse which brought me here again… service, connection, kindness. Over the years, I’ve heard so much criticism about overseas volunteering. Well, today, as I stood sweating in the blazing sun, spending time on manual labor and working with a team of people I will know for such a short time, I reflected once again on “what am I doing here?” and “can this ever really make a difference?!” My heart answered quietly and quickly. YES. A thousand times, yes. To the family of 6 who will use the latrine we are building, this small offering we are making of time and effort definitely makes a difference. And that’s where I keep my focus — on small, simple human stories. I am not interested in grand gestures or academic analysis. For me, international volunteering has always been about simple kindness from one human to another, with compassion and service at its core. And of course, kindness doesn’t require lengthy travel or volunteer work at all… It’s just a matter of open hearts, conscious minds, and helping hands, in whatever form we choose!
As for me, bring on Day TWO !!

Tanja Kisslinger | DWC Team Leader

There are the two homes for which we are building pit latrines during our time in Kep…

Michelle mixes the mortar… seriously the hardest part of the job!

Can you believe all this wasn’t even here this morning?! I’m impressed with us, lol.
OK, so, I’ve seen better pics of me, haha, but I’m happy, and that shows 🙂

Father and son, they live in one of the homes where we are working…

Tuesday, March 6, 2018 Day TWO, and the progress is mad! Latrine #1 is up, the door is on, the floor is underway, the roof is next. Meanwhile, at Latrine #2 next door we’ve started digging the pit and the bricks are being laid. Feeling really inspired today! Tanja Kisslinger | DWC Team Leader

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 Day THREE = plaster!! Plus some serious progress on the interior. Each latrine will have a water basin, a toilet, and a shower/washing area!! This is deluxe! (That’s me in the green cap trapped inside the water basin!) Tanja Kisslinger | DWC Team Leader

Thursday, March 8, 2018
Day FOUR and my heart is full!
Why? Two reasons:
1) I spent International Women’s Day with a team of four incredible women, building pit latrines under the scorching Cambodian sun. These women range in age from 46 to 76, and are veterans of life. They bring heart, soul and wisdom to each and every brick, rock and bucket. They put others in the forefront of their awareness, and they live life to the fullest. My team (Susan, Michelle, Judy and Helen) shows so clearly that women are forces of nature.
2) Mr. Song, the construction foreman at our job site told us today that in his 9 years of working with teams of international volunteers on build projects, he has never encountered a team like us. He said, not only are we “older” and all women, but no other team before us has shown the same drive, dedication and progress!! What can I say?! #sodamnproud

Tanja Kisslinger | DWC Team Leader

Helen, Judy, Susan and I… Michelle is missing from this team pic!

The amazing Michelle takes her turn at plastering the water basin!

Check out the plaster progress on Latrine #1

That’s Mr. Song (site foreman) working with Judy on Latrine #2… He’s a great boss!

Susan is a retired nurse, and an all around angel. She’s one of the hardest working members of my team!

Friday, March 9, 2018
Day FIVE and we continue ahead of schedule. That doesn’t mean it’s easy or without struggle though! As we feel the heat and work of the past days, each member of the team processes her own journey. Sometimes that means illness, or fatigue, or frustration. Sometimes it just means a desire to be seen and heard. That much is universal. In fact, that’s pretty much the true value we are each bringing to the job site each day… We don’t believe there is any work being done here that couldn’t be done without us. Nor do we believe we have skills that don’t already exist here. But we do bring an openness and willingness to bridge worlds, to be present, to join a team and acknowledge our shared humanity. It’s just that simple (not simple at all!) and it’s just that necessary!

P.S. Today Mr. Song rounded up a few men from the neighbourhood to help lower the cement cylinders into the pit. Amazing community here! And that’s what today’s post is about… not about our team, but about the incredible team of locals we’ve joined here.

Tanja Kisslinger | DWC Team Leader

Monday, March 12 to Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Days SIX and SEVEN saw us dig deep… not in the dirt this time, but in the homestretch on Latrine #1! That required a whole lotta teamwork, sweat and humour in order to get to the tasks at hand: filling in and capping the pit; finishing the interior; putting on the roof!! And the best part… meeting and spending time with the amazing men, women and children who will benefit from the work for years to come.
Latrine #2… we’re coming for you next!

Tanja Kisslinger | DWC Team Leader

Thursday, March 15, 2018

And so it ends… with just as much energy, hope and dedication as it began! As always, it is bittersweet to complete a project, having made a connection to and investment in this small patch of time and space. But, as ever, it’s so important to be grateful for all that has been accomplished. And of course… I’m not just referring to the construction of the latrines!
I’m so grateful for the women who signed up for this, and who gave heart and soul (and buckets of sweat) to the families and the project here.
I’m so grateful for the organization with whom we travelled — Developing World Connections — for continuing to work tirelessly to create sustainable and meaningful volunteer experiences that make valuable contributions and that combat the dangers of “volun-tourism”.
And I’m so very grateful for the local families and work crew, who opened their arms and hearts to us, letting us support them for a moment in time. They are true teachers of grace in adversity.
It has always been said that volunteering gives you more than you can ever hope to give… and I couldn’t agree more. Each one of us (Susan, Helen, Judy, Michelle and I) are walking away deeply enriched by this brief adventure into service and compassion. I can’t wait to see how that energetic chain of action continues to unfold for each of us, in our own lives.
THANK YOU, Team Cambodia!!

Tanja Kisslinger | DWC Team Leader

Posted in on March 5, 2018