The sights, smells, sounds and feels of Cambodia startle the senses -- from a 5-story golden Buddha which presides over a traffic circle to the terra cotta fences which show Warriors in period dress playing tug of war with a multi-headed snake. A family of seven packed onto a motor scooter plays chicken with our bus-- a miasma of fishy smells surrounds the city-- the aroma and tastes of the delicious Cambodian food we have been served -- a tabby cat cleans herself in the the sun atop a Russian tank with its floor missing from a land mine-- the 90 degree weather is in stark contrast to the winter we left behind. The background of this far away and exotic location doesn't change what we are here to do. In this war-torn country, the need for decent housing is exceedingly great.
The two families that we are helping are currently living in tiny wooden structures with corrugated tin walls AKA an oven in this hot Cambodian climate.
Today was our first day of building, and we got off to a great start! We were all introduced to a new building technique-- a machine donated by a generous Canadian group turns clay, sand and a bit of concrete into Lego building block type bricks. Strong, even and easy to make , theses bricks insure fast construction and sturdy structure. Our walls on both houses are at about head height already!
One of the best parts of the experience has been getting to meet so many interesting people. Our group ranges in age from 20-somethings to 60-somethings-- teachers , physical therapists, salespeople, construction workers, a retired military person who has been on more than 10 Habitat builds around the world- a corporate lawyer, a physician assistant, etc. How cool is this? Our Cambodian hosts are young and awesome-- Pholly, who also doubles as the entertainment at breaks with his guitar and -Rish, whose larger-than-life personality means that talking with her hands isn't quite enough for her-- she gestures with her whole person!
I am really excited to see what the rest of the trip will bring and I am most excited about completing these houses for our deserving families. Best regards to all at home!
This post was written by Lisa Schick Hudspeth, ISA-AM. Lisa has participated in three Global Village trips with Habitat Wake!