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Mekong Big Build, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

November 1, 2013 to November 9, 2013

Wanted: Individuals with a thirst for adventure and a true desire to make a significant contribution to the world. No construction skills or experience are required - just a great spirit and a good sense of humor. In November we will gather with more than 350 volunteers from all over the world to build a “new city” for those who called the Stueng Meanchey dumpsite home until it closed in 2009. This is an amazing opportunity to make a tremendous impact and represent the United States on this very special build. We certainly welcome members from all corners of the world to our team! 



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Mekong Big Build
The closure of Steung Meanchey dumpsite in 2009 left hundreds of families without homes and their source of income as garbage pickers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. Many now live in shacks hugging the dumpsite’s fence, and others are dispersed across the city; all live in substandard housing struggling to make a living. Mekong Big Builds volunteers will work at Smile Village, or Phum Kdey Nhor Nhem, helping to build affordable rental homes for these families. Smile Village is a 2.2 hectare site just 11 kilometers and within cycling distance from the city center, providing easy access to jobs, schools and opportunities to develop new skills. 

Big builds bring greater attention to the problem of poverty housing and bring a larger influx of capital to help address the problem more expediently. The partner families are either homeless or live in over-crowded, inadequate housing in constant threat of eviction. Increasing access to stable housing without fear of eviction will also prevent vulnerable children from dropping out or remaining excluded from school because of poverty.

For the first time, these families will enjoy safe, decent shelter - something many of us take for granted.

About Cambodia
Cambodia is located in southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, between Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. The mighty Mekong River dominates the country’s fertile landscape, and the Angkor Wat temple complex is one of the most treasured and visited sites in the entire region.

Ninety percent of Cambodia’s population is ethnically Cambodian. Theravada Buddhism is the religion of about 95 percent of the people. Khmer is the official language, though French is still spoken in urban areas and English is increasingly popular as a second language. The climate in Cambodia is tropical.

We will be working in Phnom Penh, the capital of the kingdom of Cambodia. Phnom Penh is an ancient city situated at the confluence of three great rivers – the “four arms” of the Mekong River. The city is also the commercial, political and cultural hub of Cambodia.

About Habitat for Humanity Cambodia
Habitat Cambodia aims to reduce poverty by empowering communities to improve their access to affordable and basic services and better living conditions. Habitat has already started a program of building new homes and rehabilitating existing homes in Cambodia.

In Phnom Penh, more than 300,000 people live in slum housing – one quarter of the city’s population. Only 10 years ago, 30,000 people lived in slum areas. Still, housing problems are widespread. In rural Cambodia, households account for nearly 90 percent of the country’s poor, with 85 percent of the population living in rural areas.

Standard itinerary
Day 1 Friday, Nov. 1: Depart the U.S. 
Day 2 Saturday, Nov. 2: Travel day.
Day 3 Sunday, Nov. 3: Arrival in Phnom Penh; welcome and orientation with local staff members; dinner and rest.
Days 4-8 Typical work day (Monday, Nov. 4 –Friday, Nov. 8): Breakfast at accommodations or local restaurant; work from 9am-4pm with lunch on-site; free time after work to clean up; dinner at local restaurant; time for team activities.
Day 9 Saturday, Nov. 9: Depart for home.

Global Village teams to Cambodia can expect to stay in a local hotel with team members sharing rooms and bathrooms. Breakfast and dinner are usually eaten at the hotel or at a local restaurant, and lunch is usually provided by the affiliate and taken on the work site.

Program cost
For more details about what is included in this cost, visit Global Village program cost. 

Funding your big build trip to Asia Pacific:

Employer matching gifts
More than 1,300 companies match employee gifts to Habitat, and this money could be designated for your Global Village trip. Visit to find your company’s matching gift guidelines and company contact. 

Personal fundraising
We offer monthly fundraising coaching calls to help you raise part or all of your trip cost (excluding airfare). Our monthly fundraising coaching calls will answer your questions and give you new and creative ideas for reaching your fundraising goal.

Team leader
Kelly White lives near Seattle with her husband and three boys. Driven by a passion for helping others and international travel, Cambodia will be Kelly’s seventh Global Village trip. She has led two teams to Viet Nam and cannot wait to return to Southeast Asia. Kelly is looking forward to sharing her passion for this part of the world and the rewarding experience of working together to provide a better life for families in Cambodia with a great team of like-minded adventurers. She promises big laughs, great food and a week you will never forget. This is an incredible opportunity to make a huge difference. If you are interested in learning more about The Big Mekong Build Cambodia, please contact Kelly at

To apply for a GV trip, please follow the Application Instructions.

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