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Daily summaries from Cambodia -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Daily summaries from Cambodia

Friday, November 20, 2009

Build day 5: Dedicated and celebrated
On Wednesday and Thursday, volunteers stayed well beyond the scheduled 5 p.m. quitting time to stay on track for a grand finish Friday.

On Friday, volunteers stayed late once again—this time, though, they stayed late to celebrate.

After dedicating 21 freshly finished homes in the New Life Community, volunteers and families shared a meal outside while a crescent moon was rising. Traditional Cambodian dances accompanied the dinner. Non-traditional music preceded it when Cambodian hip-hop artist DJ Khlaing performed a song inspired by his day spent building on the Carter Project work site.

Other entertainment included a clown show for the village children, and volunteers from New Zealand performed a traditional Maori dance called the Haka.

Saturday, volunteers will return to the community again, capping their celebration with a visit from Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Build day 4: Topping it off
Trusses went up within an hour Thursday morning in Cambodia.

“Roof party!” shouted New Zealander Stephen Watt as a truss was drilled into place atop the Hun family’s house. “We’re getting there, people!”

In the afternoon, house teams divided to conquer a multitude of tasks. Some crews painted, giving doors, windows and frames coats of dark yellow paint. A few others installed the cement kitchen counter and sink. Several crews put up green gables and roof sheets to cover the homes.

“Today was about teamwork,” said Chun Hwee, a 29-year-old volunteer from Singapore. “It’s been great. You have to work that way to get everything done.”

Each house had two drills to use; a charging table was set up to keep them going. The first-aid station also saw plenty of action with the drills in service and the metal sheeting going up. Sliced, pinched and cut fingers were not an uncommon sight.

But by day’s end, roof sheeting had started on every house, and several were already complete. Building remains on track for completion on Friday.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Build day 3: A cooler day brings progress
The goal for Day 3 in Cambodia: finish the walls and set brackets in place for the trusses and roofing on Thursday. Wednesday was not always easy, but consider it a mission accomplished. The final rows of blocks did not always line up correctly at first. Corner columns needed adjusting. Other delays slowed a few houses. But challenges were overcome, and teamwork saved the day. Some house crews moved at a quicker pace than others, allowing some volunteers and construction assistants to help crews that needed extra hands. A cooler day was also much appreciated by volunteers. A 10-degree drop in temperature and a steady breeze replaced the heat and humidity of the first two build days. Now, come morning, it is on to the roof!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Build day 2: Taking shape before sunset
Faces disappeared behind walls today as volunteers laid blocks past the windows, at least 20 rows high. With temperatures again reaching the upper 90s Fahrenheit degrees (35–38 Celsius), volunteers took a slightly more deliberate pace.

“It’s not a race,” house leader Tiffany Walker told her volunteers in the morning. “Take your time; drink water. I promise you it’ll get done.”

House crews divided into two-person teams tackling all sides of each home. One person soaked a block in water and handed it up to a partner, on scaffolding, who placed it on top of freshly spread mortar. Another tandem team followed: one filling in the joints between blocks and the other wiping away excess mortar. Finally, other volunteers scrubbed the blocks clean or replenished the buckets of mortar as they emptied.

Sometimes lines wavered and blocks had to be reset to straighten a row, but by the time the sun began to set over the New Life Community, the shells of new homes had taken shape


Monday, November 16, 2009

Cambodia: day one
After an opening ceremony at the entrance to the New Life Community in Sra Por village, volunteers wasted no time getting to work building exterior walls and corner columns.

Habitat Cambodia construction supervisors Malvin Pagdanganan and Kent Kruse watched the project take off. “It’s amazing how quickly everyone got started,” Kruse said. “That was within minutes of getting instructions!”

“They’re ready to rock and roll,” Pangdanganan said. “They didn’t come for the speeches. The building―this is what they came here for.”

By day’s sweltering end, each house crew had at least two column corners up, nine levels of blocks laid and windows set in place.
―Phillip Jordan