To build on the first-time success of last year’s event that drew six hundred youth volunteers to Smile Village, Habitat for Humanity Cambodia spent many months planning for Habitat Youth Build 2014. In the early morning hours of May 3, as the long crowds of youth began streaming down the road toward Smile Village, it was clear that all of the campus presentations, meetings with student group leaders, fundraising, logistical planning and creating an on-line presence, had paid off in a big way.
One of our goals this year was to double the number of volunteers from 2013, and we are proud to say that here in Cambodia, Habitat Youth Build 2014 drew twelve hundred young people from area student groups, schools, colleges, universities and Buddhist pagodas to spend a day building and planting outside of Phnom Penh. In addition, eight thousand students also took part in mass activation events around the country to raise awareness on the issue of sub-standard housing.
The event kicked off with opening speeches and review of safety rules, then teams broke out into their respective areas to begin their tasks. The Smile Village project site soon became a hive of activity; there were groups preparing turf and a drainage system for a large community green space, long brigades moving stacks of concrete block, building foundations getting filled and organic gardens planted. Our Construction supervisors worked with a team to begin building wall sections from recycled materials for later use, and one of our project partners, Solutions To End Poverty brought in their landscaping experts to train team leaders on the technique of installing bamboo roof gardens and tree planting.
One of the many special parts of the day was having Cambodian recording artist Pou Khlaing work along side the volunteers and provide a highlight to the great lineup of entertainment during lunch.