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HFH Cambodia Completes First Test Build For Khmer Harvest Build

June 9th, 2011

12 Volunteers Help A Family To Build A Home In Oudong


06_09_2011_Cambodia_Completes_1st_Test_BHabitat volunteers with Kem Sabet and her husband Long Sambath (holding key) and their children after the test build was completed. Photo by Hanzel Sarceda.

OUDONG, Cambodia, 9th June 2011: Habitat for Humanity Cambodia has completed its first test build ahead of November’s Khmer Harvest Build in Oudong, about 50 km. northwest of Phnom Penh. A team of 12 volunteers worked over five days in late May to build a house made of red soil bricks.

The volunteers comprised two from New Zealand and two from South Korea with the remaining from Cambodia. They helped Habitat home partner Kem Sabet and her family to build brick walls.

Kem Sabet and her husband Long Sambath have lived in poverty all of their lives. For the past three years they have lived in a crowded one-room bamboo house built on stilts with a plastic sheet roof that leaks heavily in the rainy season.

With four children to support, the couple could not afford a proper house of their own. But through the Khmer Harvest Build this coming November, the family of six will be able to live in a new community, in a safer house far away from the dump site where they lived and worked for the past three years.

“I’m so happy for my family,” said Habitat home partner Kem Sabet. “We have always hoped for one day having our own home but never had the chance. Once this house is finished we plan to move in right away and begin a new life here.”


06_09_2011_Cambodia_Completes_1st_Test_B Kem Sabet (top) is eager to start her new life in her new home.
International and local volunteers such as Andrew Baker (center) and Sorida Sbong (above) found the experience memorable. Photos by Mikel Flamm.

Her daughter, Long Davy, 24, said: “I am very happy to be here to work on the house for my family. This is the first house we have ever owned so this is very special for my family. I will never forget this and all the people who came here to help my family.”

Korean volunteer Ju-yeon Cho was initially sceptical of completing a house in five days but said later: “It’s harder than I thought but it was a good experience for me.”

Spending time building a home for Kem Sabet’s family has fostered a team spirit among the volunteers.

Sorida Sbong, director of operations at Transitions Global, a non-governmental organization that empowers survivors of human trafficking, said: “I love working with the other volunteers knowing that we are helping a family who really need a house. Few of us have done construction before but we learned quickly and had a great time.”

During the test build, Andrew Baker from New Zealand said: “It has been an experience building in the hot humid temperature but we are on target to finish this house on schedule. We have had a great time working together with the home owner family and all the volunteers.”

Baker will return to Cambodia for the Khmer Harvest Build, together with some 150 Kiwi volunteers. His countryman Rob Silcock will be among those making a repeat trip in November.

Silcock was a volunteer in the 2009 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Cambodia and revisited the country for the test build. “It’s been a fulfilling experience returning here to Cambodia. I just love it here with the people, the community and whole experience. It is a challenge working in the heat and humidity and a completely different type of construction we do back home. But it all works and the experience of being here will stay with you.”

The Khmer Harvest Build is part of a resettlement project in Oudong for 22 families who are currently living and working near a dumpsite in the capital Phnom Penh. A total of 350 international volunteers are expected to take part in the special build in Oudong.

HFH Cambodia has partnered with International Children’s Care, Australia, an international NGO, to provide livelihood training for the families once they relocate to their new homes.