By Neale Kempe, Habitat for Humanity Cambodia volunteer
There is an allure about Cambodia that is difficult to articulate. This country, more than most, has suffered the ravages of war. But rather than dwelling on all that was — and is — broken, this “smiling” country has moved on and is embracing change and challenge with vigor and optimism. My experience building with Habitat in Cambodia has been perhaps the most rewarding of my life.
Having led four teams to Cambodia over the past three years, including working as a house leader during the 2009 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, I have been nothing but impressed with the organizational ability of the local program, the warm and wonderful staff and skilled workers, and the partner families who are so appreciative of our work.
As a country, Cambodia faces a number of unique challenges. Cambodia’s population is dramatically on the rise, with some 40 percent of the current population under the age of 16. The challenge in Cambodia is not only to build houses, but also to address infrastructure that will accommodate the needs of the burgeoning population. After visiting a school in the community of Oudong, I became aware of this lack of infrastructure. We found only one serviceable toilet to accommodate more than 500 children. Our team immediately set about to repair two other toilets and have plans in mind for 2011 to build more to better serve the needs of this growing school.
I am very excited about continuing my work with Habitat Cambodia and am currently planning to provide financial support and expertise to a planned blitz build in 2011. Habitat Cambodia is doing marvelous work in this part of the world and is truly reaching a population in desperate need. I feel proud to be a part of that process and feel that a part of me is invested in the success of the families we have served.