We welcome Property Manager Esther Nilson to the blog today. She and a few Rentwest team members had a pretty amazing experience in Cambodia earlier in the month …
After 12 months of fundraising and organisation, Perth Power headed to Cambodia to participate in a volunteer house building project. The group of eight adults and four teenagers included three Rentwest staff – Angela Whibberley, Lisa Cutri and Esther Nilson –Maryanne Northcott from Custom Financial Solutions (who spearheaded the campaign), and some of their family and friends. The Perth Power team pledged to build 10 houses and raised $18,500 for the Tabitha Project (each of us funded our own return trip to Cambodia).
Our first day in Cambodia was pretty confronting. We had orientation at the Tabitha Foundation in Phnom Penh and then travelled to the Killing Fields. It was a haunting and emotional visit for all of us.
We began work on the houses the next day.
A 45 minute bus ride took us to the village where we’d be building. We had quite the arrival, with our bus getting bogged in the mud!
The frameworks of the homes had already been completed by qualified builders but it was our job to nail in the flooring, which consisted of many strips of split bamboo. We then had to erect and nail in the metal sheeting for the walls. After hours of numb bums, sore knees and several bashed thumbs, we managed to complete six houses on the first day. We were pretty happy with this result as another group (which had 23 people) hadn’t completed anywhere near our total by mid-morning. (A bit of competition in the jungles of Cambodia never hurt anyone!)
On the second day we had the remaining four houses to complete. The villagers seemed more accepting of us, the children especially. They were scampering around, climbing ladders with younger kids on their hips. They watched as we hammered away. One little chap elected himself as quality controller and, using a small piece of bamboo, relentlessly tapped spots where we had missed a nail!
The three Rentwest girls were proud to complete the flooring of one hut all on their own. The three guys in Perth Power also did an amazing job. Not only did they show off their carpentry skills but they also continued putting up the tin walls, which was no mean feat. The teenagers did a great job entertaining the young children at the end by playing Duck, Duck, Goose and Hokey Pokey – it was great to see their smiles and hear their laughter.
After an early finish on the second day, the Tabitha Foundation representative called together all the families who were receiving homes. We presented each family with a beautiful handmade blanket to go with their brand new home. It was an extremely happy and emotional finish to the project, and one we will never forget.
Further good news is that many wish to return again next year and others are also keen to be involved. The more the merrier for all concerned!