Working together for brighter futures in Cambodia November 26, 2019

Posted in on November 26, 2019

Free Day

So, what does a free day mean to we world travellers?

Yes, a walk to a newly discovered coffee shop “Browns”, an exploring walk to the Tribe Art Gallery, then a tuk-tuk ride to Cheam Art Gallery to view native Cambodian’s artwork. A bit of a rest was followed by a cooking class complete with a market experience.

Lynda Shioya, DWC Volunteer

First day

Up at the crack of dawn and everyone into the van for a 30-minute drive. We met with the family of Sok Sei (husband) and Ses Ros(wife). The DWC team joined sisters Janice and Kylie Koay and mum Kim Lew from Kuala Lumpur to provide help with their build. All work was co-ordinated by Nika from Volunteer Building Cambodia and contractor Boun Thoeun.

After lunch, the team walked across the lane and down a few yards to the DWC build, met the family of 5-month old Chana Joy – Mum, Phon Sikhs and Dad, Mean Joy.

With our morning experience, the team dove into the work with little supervision. The highlight was moving the old house three feet away for the family to live in during the construction.

Personal observation: despite minimal language of Khmer and English, everyone worked well together and knew what to do!

Lynda Shioya, DWC Volunteer

Day 2

Again, in the morning the team worked with the Malaysian sisters. The site was blessed before work began. There was much sawing and chiselling to fit the lumber together.

Lynda Shioya, DWC Volunteer

Day 3

This morning was the most significant in terms of seeing the results of our labour. The siding was pretty much done as members climbed the narrow ladder to hammer away at the siding and black flooring. Stairs are prepared, and the door is waiting to be installed. We’ll leave this site and concentrate on the Volunteer Building Cambodia one.

Lynda Shioya, DWC Volunteer

Day 4

Surprisingly, the team was reassigned back to the Prom Kod village site to help Janice and Kylie finish the build. Lots of sanding and propping the finished steps and door made up the morning. We all signed the drying concrete at the foot of the steps and proceeded to the other site.

We prepped the steps now being experienced sawyers, chiselers and sanders.

We look forward to the blessing of the first build tomorrow.

Lynda Shioya, DWC Volunteer

Day 5

We had a later start of 15 minutes as the final window was completed by Boun Thien our “Big Boss” the day before ready for the blessing. We wore our blue VBC shirts and participated by circling the house 3 times carrying household items after the holy man chanted and a little niece symbolically washed the owners’ feet. They preceded us up the stairs and into the room where they tied yellow yarn around our right wrists. Three Buddhist monks cane into the room and gave chants and blessings as well. The two Malaysian sisters and their mum were presented with certificates for their contribution from VBC. Everyone departed and the team was given food to celebrate: noodles, stew, and bread. After an emotional farewell , we headed for the other site.

Lynda Shioya, DWC Volunteer

Day 6

After two days of R and R, the team is back at work in Prom Kod village to complete the house for Mean Choy, Phon Sokha and baby Choy Chana.

With the experience of the previous week’s build, the work should go smoothly. Already the windows, steps and door are built and ready to be installed. We will be breaking in a new “boss”by the name of Barrang.

It was moving day this a.m. as the “hen house” had to be moved to make room for two concrete circles for the septic system. They were rolled into place and several of the team jumped in and dug dirt until the circles settled into the soil with only half of it showing.

Then it was nailing floorboards,setting up the scaffolding to nailing siding while the volunteers installed the roof. Just GREAT to see the build progress.

Lynda Shioya, DWC Volunteer

Day 7

The temperatures have dropped to 28 celcius and everyone is looking forward to an easier day. We acquired another worker by the name of Russ from another team also working in Cambodia. Russ is DWC’s Project Officer.

When we got on site, markers were laid out for the latrine. As the day progressed, bricks were laid, then cemented and the toilet bowl was put in place.

During most of the day, our hammering of the side and front sidings was accompanied by loudspeaker-transmitted funeral chants from a monastery nearby. Lots of pails of sand and gravel were carried under the house in readiness for concreting tomorrow. The aluminum shades are also ready for installation tomorrow.

Lynda Shioya, DWC Volunteer

Day 8

We can see the end in sight.

Temperatures are moderate for Cambodian climate at 28 degrees celcius.

Just finishing up the concrete on the ground floor, putting up the awning, readying the foundation for the latrine, sealing the lid to the septic tanks, finishing off the railings and having Mean, the future owner complete the peak of the house. Ray took the opportunity to stage a photo op as our DEC placque was nailed in.

Our early departure was delayed due to a tan dog’s curiosity over the cement floor. Exploration meant Linda and the owner having to smooth out the paw prints all over. Once that was done, a black dog came over and walked on the edge before being shooed away. However, we humans did put down our messages on the cement at the foot of the steps!

Lynda Shioya, DWC Volunteer

Day 9

Last day of construction. It was a more relaxed day for the team. Some trimming and clean up of the grounds in anticipation of the blessing ceremony tomorrow.

The main focus was the latrine with tiling and building a metal surround for it in green.

We built the family a table. There were spells when we could play with the neighbourhood children and they sang and made ice cube bracelets from our cooler chest.

With no toys they can entertain themselves with insects, flowers, the dogs, leftover sand and now us.

With an early departure we visited the VBC center where we met with the head teacher Emey and teacher Lillie.

We also viewed the huge warehouse and hear of their hopeful plans to provide training such as sewing, mechanics and the trades. Here ends our last day of the build. House and latrine complete.

Lynda Shioya, DWC Volunteer

Day 10

Well the final day has arrived and we got to sleep in 15 minutes extra with a scheduled departure of 7:30 am.

Some of the neighbours had already arrived before us.

The van containing the household gifts was tardy and the 200 pounds of rice was nowhere to be seen. We improvised and borrowed the neighbours’. Ray presented the key to the family; then the holy person began the chants, the family whetting stone removed from the bottom step and a little girl washed the feet of the husband and wife. At the top of the steps a chosen elder sat and had the right of approval or disapproval.

Once done with these rituals, the holy man, the couple, the neighbours and the build team circled the house 3 times, then proceeded up the steps into the house. Token offerings were on a mat and chants were sung. Afterwards, each person in attendance had yarn wrapped around his/her wrist to signify being blessed along with the house. More blessings were given by  three monks who duly received gifts of food.

then we all sat down to a delicious meal of rice noodles, chicken stew and ginger fish stew.

The couple expressed their gratitude, Rady, the rep from VBC spoke; then presented each of us a certificate and one for DWC’s office.

By noon we were back at the hotel to spend some free time.

Lynda Shioya, DWC Volunteer

Posted in on November 26, 2019