Continuing the Cambodia Hope Journey
By Jonathan Reckford, Habitat for Humanity International CEO
It just gets better. We completed one house and finished the walls on the second as part of our Hope Journey in Cambodia. After we dedicated the homes and reluctantly left our new friends, we prepared for our next stop to visit Habitat projects in Siem Reap.
I have loved every Habitat dedication ceremony I’ve had the privilege of participating in, and this was the kind of afternoon that makes me want to work for Habitat forever. We gathered with our volunteers, Habitat staff, the partner families and what seemed like every child within 10 kilometers. After each person cut a bit of the ceremonial ribbon, the partner families made the final cuts. We then presented oversized keys to each family and were invited inside. We all removed our shoes and sat on the spotless new cement floor with each person having a chance to share the about the build experience. The families also told how life would be different in their new homes.
After much laughter and many tears, we went back outside and released birds that represented new hope for the future. The families were showered with fragrant jasmine and frangipani petals. Our gift to each family was a mango tree that we planted together in the small front yards. It was very hard to say goodbye.
One of my favorite Habitat quotes is from screenwriter and director Randall Wallace. He said, “Habitat for Humanity is a perpetual motion miracle. Everyone who receives, gives — and everyone who gives, receives. If you want to stay complacent and uninspired, stay away from Habitat! Come close to Habitat and it will change you and make you a part of something that changes the world.” That is clearly the case when volunteers thank me profusely for the opportunity to pay to cross the world to labor in the blazing sun and then say that it is one of the most meaningful experiences of their lives.
Day 1: Building in Cambodia
Day 2: Pointing bricks and putting God’s love into action
Day 4: Habitat Cambodia responds to water and sanitation needs
Day 5: Overcoming Challenges to Make a Difference
Reflections from a Hope Journey Team Member