Habitat for Humanity Trip to Cambodia 2018
During this past summer, a group of Grade 10s and 11s and teachers travelled to Cambodia to participate in Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village program. Habitat for Humanity is a global non-profit organization whose vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. As part of the Global Village program, our students helped a family in need rebuild their home.
Every morning, the students travelled by van from Siem Reap town to Bakong Commune, which is 20 kilometers away. There is no electricity and the housing, water and sanitation conditions are comparatively worse than other neighboring villages. Our project involved helping the Bunthea family, which consists of Mr. Chhoun Bunthea, his wife and their two children. Mr. Bunthea used to carry cement bags for a living but now suffers from heavy chest pains and can no longer work. In order to survive, his wife works as a housekeeper at a hotel in the town. The family earns around $85 US per month. The income is just enough to buy daily food and get by. Their house, with walls made of dried grass and palm leaves, is heavily deteriorated making them susceptible to torrential rain and dangerous insects.
In hot and humid conditions, the students smoothened bamboo planks, mixed cement, carried bricks, dug trenches, built an outhouse, and constructed various parts of the house. We also repaired their wooden floors by nailing new bamboo boards and strengthening the old ones.
The students were also immersed in the village culture and saw what village life is like for the local families. They saw what housing conditions for the neighboring families was like and how they cooked using an open fire right in the house. Our students were the center of attention for the local kids who gathered around them to play. Over the days, they become siblings for the village kids who greeted us with ear-to-ear smiles when we arrived each morning.
Upon completion of the house, there was a dedication ceremony where we cut the ribbon and handed the keys over to the family. The family was very emotional and although we could not understand the language, it was evident how grateful they were for our support. Our students felt the impact they had made to the Bunthea family and the larger community. The festivities concluded with a feast shared with all of the villagers and a dance party with lots of baby powder! (a Cambodian tradition)
The Habitat for Humanity club is an opportunity open to Grade 10 and 11 students and is an example of service programming at Saint Maur, in which students are expected to make significant contributions within our school community and beyond.