Building houses in Cambodia, you can help too

Team Heart4 Home is a group of Rentwest employees, family and friends, who are committed to building homes for the poorest villagers in Cambodia. We are travelling there in August 2016. I would like to share a brief snapshot of the trip we made in August 2013. It may put into perspective what we are all about. (If you haven’t seen the video I made of the previous trip, do yourself a favour and have a look, you will get an even better idea.)

We travelled by mini bus from Phnom Penh out to the village where we were going to build. Our chatter and mood in the bus changed along with the scenery. Small shanties were scattered along the roadside, with food stalls, children and stray dogs. These shanties became less frequent and rice paddies and farmers became more prevalent. After an hour or so, our bus eventually stopped in a village driveway, and so did we, as we stepped out into thick, black, slithering mud. The villagers gazed at us, eyes squinting through a smoky haze emanating from the largest wok I have ever seen sitting atop an open fire. Pigs wallowed in the mud by the roadside. Cows lifted their heads and stared at us with disinterest. Children ran amok somewhere and shrieked with laughter. We felt we were watched silently by a hundred eyes as we made our way down the muddy driveway into the village centre. We stood there, smiled and waved at a group of elderly villagers seated on chairs and lying in hammocks beneath an old wooden structure. There was no response. Awkward!! By the end of the second day, we were part of the furniture. As we drove off after completing our second and last day of the build, the children ran laughing, chasing Leon down the path. He played along, much to their delight. As the bus left, an old woman waved and called out. Leon ran back and gave her a huge hug. This was a pivotal moment and many of us shed a tear. It made us realise how such a small part of our lives created such a huge difference in theirs.

Team Heart4Home has committed to build 10 homes in Cambodia in August 2016. Each home costs $1700 to build; our target of $17,000 is large but definitely achievable. The new homes themselves are elevated on poles, with split bamboo flooring and tin walls and roofs. This keeps families out of the mud and above flooding in the wet season. The initial structure is put in by an engineering team. The building team is responsible for hammering in each piece of bamboo and attaching the tin walls.

It is hard work. Blisters and bloodied thumbs abound. The conditions are hot and humid. The mosquitoes can be a nuisance. Ablutions are dark squats or a nearby bush. Bread and water are on the menu for lunch. But the children’s smiles … oh the smiles!! That is what it’s all about. Creating hope and futures. All it takes is four walls, a floor and a roof – things we take for granted. We know what it is like to provide homes for people in Perth and understand the thrill it gives people to move into a home. We now extend our services differently and voluntarily in this global charitable project.

Team Heart4Home would love to receive any donation from you to assist this worthwhile project. Donations can be made at http://tabithaaustralia.org.au/edonates/form Choose the Heart4Home Team. Any amount over $2 is tax deductible and a tax receipt will be issued.

By Esther Nilson.