The project blog post
Two years ago, a man broke his leg in a motorbike accident. This forced him and his family of five to sell their house to pay for the medical bills. It was this family that we spent two days building a house and vegetable garden for. Originally, we were allotted three days of the trip for the construction, and set low expectations with our puny presence on day one. However, we managed to get the hang of it very quickly, and built it faster than anyone could have predicted.
We arrived on site around 8am, and set to work assisting the local men to put up the frames for the house on sets of poles to create a house on stilts. After the framing was up and the men began setting up the wall and floor framing, we were set to work to create a vegetable garden from scratch. We spent the next two hours removing all the grass and weeds from a patch near the house to create a dirt square, and built a fence out of bamboo and sticks, tied with flax-like grass. A huge green mesh was then wrapped around the perimeter, to keep the chickens, dogs, cats and water buffaloes out.
After returning to the homestay for a quick two-hour siesta and lunch, we returned to the site for more work. The group split in two. The first group climbed into the house to hammer down the floorboards, which was a very entertaining endeavour due to the differing abilities and levels of anger when using a hammer. The second group planted seeds in neat rows; mostly Morning Glory - a common vegetable in Cambodia. Underneath the house, the ground was very lumpy and Mr Key, our guide for these few days, alongside Mr Teng, a local guide, and a few more of the locals helped us move and level out the dirt underneath the house as we dug up dirt and carried it to underneath the house.
We began the day in two groups again - three girls up in the house sawing off the ends of floorboards to make an even length for the wall to go next to, and the rest of us continued moving dirt. We had a mid morning break of fresh coconut water that the local men retrieved from the trees and cut open for us.
We had another siesta after lunch before going back to the house to finish moving and levelling dirt. When we had finished with the dirt we built a fence of bamboo and nails that split the property in half. One half with the garden and storage shed/kitchen, that the family had been living in prior to our project, and the other half with the house that we built. The purpose of the fence was to keep the water buffaloes and cows out. We also planted lemongrass on both sides.
We looked around the local markets in the morning but found that they werent too different from the markets in Siem Reap, other than being smaller. We got to visit a local high school and were taken to a Pagoda to learn about the Buddhist religion from Mr Teng and Mr Key. We spent the rest of the morning learning how to cook chicken amok, though mushrooms were used for the vegetarians, from the woman at the homestay who had been cooking us wonderful meals throughout our stay.
Our cooking was successful, and no one was poisoned, so after lunch we had another siesta before going back to the house for a housewarming. There were two Buddhist monks present at the housewarming who gave a water blessing to the family and everyone present. Eight of us got to take part in blessing the family and thanking the monks during the housewarming ceremony. The family and community were very thankful for our contribution and everyone was smiling.
Mr Tengs English school
Throughout our stay in Isanborei we were lucky enough to visit Mr Tengs house each day after finishing at the building site. He volunteers to teach the children English after they finish school in the afternoon, so that they can have a brighter future. The children spoke English well and we played a variety of games with them. Simon Says and Seaweed were favourites. The girls enjoyed Riding On My Little White Pony, and there was a boys vs girls game of football. Whilst the boys won football, the tug of war was a draw and the younger children loved a game of tickle tag. We also spent one afternoon rotating through six groups of children teaching them; songs like row row row your boat and twinkle twinkle little star; weather and tenses; letter formation; colours; animals, and countries and continents. At the end of each day there was a high ten fiesta, a chorus of goodbyes and many hugs. On the final day, we took lots of group photos and listed our names so we can all reconnect on Facebook.
Sue sa dey, family and friends!
We are currently on the bus to the project in Isanborei and are all super excited!
We arrived in Singapore early on Monday morning and headed to our hotel which
had AC even on our budget. The next morning we headed out for a walk around Singapore to look at the crazy architecture, incredible street art and a local mosque. On the way back to the hotel we all got super hot and tired in the 84% humidity and over 30 degree heat, but we will adjust!
We then flew to Siem Reap. When we got off the plane we were struck with more incredible heat. We jumped on to tuk tuks, for an insane journey into the city and to our hostel. At the hostel we met the amazing Annie, the owner, who greeted us with cold water which was much appreciated. We all got settled in and walked round the corner for some quick dinner and had an early night. The next day we got up had some breakfast and walked 25 minutes into the city to go to the markets. On the way we stopped at the pharmacy to pick up extra electrolyte powder as we learned its good in the heat and not to just save it for if we get sick. We split up into smaller groups and hit the market where everyone had a go at bartering. The whole team brought elephant pants (including the teachers) in preparation for the temples. We had lunch at Sister Srey cafe which support numerous charities and their staff for their future in university. On the way back to the hostel we went past a pagoda which was covered in gold and saw the massive ancient Buddha.
Once we got back to the hostel we had a nap and a swim, which was much needed! This was in preparation for the traditional Cambodian circus that night. We had dinner at the hostel and lovely Anne and her staff prepared beautiful food. Then we went off to the circus phare which was incredible. All the performers had been taken off the street at a young age, they had been trained, fed and housed all 10-15 years before they would perform on stage. There was live music the entire time, which was composed by the performers, it was in Cambodian but we got the idea, it was very fun we all enjoyed it. We all took lots of photos and videos which we can show you when we get home! After that we went straight home and crashed before our big day.
The next morning was an early one, we all woke up at 3:30am, yep all 15 of us managed to do that somehow. We jumped on the tuk tuks and went to get our tickets for Angkor Wat. Getting our head around the budget was hard, particularly at 4am, however we are getting the hang of it now. The sunrise was underwhelming, it was incredible to be there but because of the clouds we didnt see the pink and orange skies that we had seen on all the paintings. After a quick bite to eat of fried rice or noodles, we set off to Angkor Wat. Then we went to Angkor Thom to see the Bayon temple where there were more monkeys, everyone kept their distance. The last temple we went to was Ta Phrom from the tomb raider movie. After a very long morning, we went back to the hostel at 11am but if felt like 4pm. A big nap was in order. After that we went to the Cambodian markets, where there were lots of Social enterprise stores. Everyone was feeling a bit hungry so we headed back to our favourite cafe - Sister Srey for another feed. We then ventured back into the Old Markets and later, the night markets to pick up everything we had missed buying the first time round. We had dinner at Pub Street, and some of us topped it off with Fried Ice-Cream rolls from the stalls on the sides of the road. After this we went back for our last night in the hostel and packed our bags ready for our next adventure.
Sorry this post is delayed, we have been very very busy. We miss you all very much and have all had homesick days but we are having an incredible time and loving learning new things in this amazing country. Thank you all for making this trip possible, we love you all dearly. Bye for now, love you longtime ✈️_PR_html_entity_#978