This Life Cambodia and WYI
During January/February 2009 This Life Cambodia hosted a volunteer program from World Youth International (Australia) to complete the construction of an additional secure classroom for SHCC. The building will be used as a computer room / tutoring room (for private time and for students falling behind at government school) and as a program room for an up and coming income generation program. The volunteer group consisted of twelve willing and eager young women from Australia who got their hands very dirty moving rocks, digging trenches, mixing cement, laying bricks, rendering walls, painting and building garden beds. The construction took four weeks and was an incredibly satisfying accomplishment for all involved! They can now all go home and use their new-found skills to do DYI home renovations
The volunteer program ran for six weeks in total and the volunteers got to experience many different aspects of Cambodia and the Khmer way of life, including learning about Khmer history and visiting important sites, attending language lessons and cooking classes, working with the local community, the staff and students at SHCC, and spending time with TLC’s scholarship students. One of the most profound experiences for them was participating in TLC’s home stay program. The home stay program saw the volunteers hosted by six local families living close to SHCC for a two-week period whilst they were building. Here are some thoughts from the group:
“I was so glad I had the opportunity to live the Khmer lifestyle with the loveliest and most caring families I have ever met!” Chantelle
“Living out at the village was an amazing experience! We lived as part of the family, eating together, testing out and stretching our limited language skills, sleeping on floor mattresses, using squat toilets, and showering in sarongs with buckets surrounded by cows, pigs and chooks! We celebrated birthdays, attended weddings, had impromptu dance parties and had lots of time to play with the kid’s. There were many challenges for us all to overcome but the experience has taught us all a lot about ourselves and the incredible sense of community that is prevalent in Khmer culture. The most amazing part, for me, was the bonds that were created between the volunteers and the families, and the tangible sense of love and generosity that flowed in both directions. It’s something I am very grateful to have been a part of, and I’m very grateful to Billy and Se for the exceptional amount of effort that was put into the home stay program.” Cindy – WYI Team Leader
“It was such an awesome fortnight! The sense of belonging and warmth I felt there and the amount I learned about their lives was so rewarding. It really showed me Cambodia more than being in Siem Reap ever would have.” Amiee
“After leaving the home stay I have to admit I am enjoying using proper toilets! However I do miss the members of my host family and their company” Aimee
During the six-week program some of the volunteers also took on some individual projects in the afternoons after the building work. This included assisting the English teachers at SHCC, teaching advanced English to the TLC Scholarship students, research for future TLC projects, arts and crafts classes at SHCC, gardening and generally spending time with the kid’s.
The last evening of the program was much cause for celebration. SHCC and the village put on a great party to farewell the volunteers and officially open the new building!
It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to working with the next group of volunteers in 2010!