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Saint Maur students participate in Global Village program

Thursday, September 28, 2017

During this past summer, a group of Grade 11 students 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 Sambou village, which is 30 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 Sambath family, which consists of Mr. Sambath, his mother, his wife and their two children. Mr. Sambath suffers from chronic diseases and his mother has tuberculosis so they cannot work regularly. The family earns less than US $100 per month. As a result, they do not have enough food to eat and their house, with walls made of dried grass and palm leaves, is heavily deteriorated making them susceptible to torrential rain and dangerous insects.

Video created by Miyu Kojima

In hot and humid conditions, we torn down their old walls and rebuilt new wooden frames. This involved students carrying lumber, sawing the pieces, nailing and drilling, and constructing windows. We also repaired their wooden floors by nailing new boards and strengthening the old ones. Finally, we mounted large plywood sheets to the frames and painted the walls.

The students were also immersed in the village culture and saw what village life is like for the local families. They saw how the mothers gathered by the open fire “kitchen” to cook meals for all their neighboring families. 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. They took us to their school, treated us to traditional Cambodian songs and also taught us their version of duck duck goose.

 

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 Sambath 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 all Grade 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.