After witnessing and being touched by the warmth and love of Cambodians, and after understanding their needs more deeply in the first Hope Journey last year, supporters of Hope Journey returned to Cambodia. This time, the team built in 3 communes – Char Roka, Kork Thnol and Kork Thnong – in Angkor Chum District, Siem Reap Province.
Hope Journeys are special travel involvement programs in various countries where Habitat for Humanity serves. It delivers the chance for participations to directly get involved in activities and help bring real changes to families and communities. Additionally, it’s a trip where volunteers are able to openly learn and share cultures, and get deeply involved and connected with families and villagers. It is another special way of learning and committing to be part of the solutions to poverty housing through Habitat for Humanity.
Leading the team was Scot Sellers, he and his family built 2 houses with Habitat Cambodia in Phnom Penh last year. Before leaving Cambodia, he and his wife, Keely committed to help the Water and Sanitation program in Siem Reap. They became a donor of one of our projects just before the year ended. Scot initiated the second Hope Journey build for 2013 composed of 16 members – himeself and wife Keely Sellers and their 3 children Ross, Kaitlyn and Alyssa, Christ and Judith Nolan together with their 3 children Joe, Jackie and Clare, Michale Kappaz, Babara Baltz, Robert Neighbor and Tara Noronha.
Before setting off to Siem Reap for their build, the team devoted their time to understand Cambodia’s past. They visited S21 and the Cheng Erk Killing Fields in Phnom Penh City. They also attended the welcome dinner. The dinner allowed the participants to appreciate the different Cambodian traditional dance. The younger ones joined the cultural dancers and learned a few moves. In Siem Reap, the team first built 3 toilets – 2 brick toilets and 1 wooden – for 3 home partners, Lat Nhan, Vai Pout, and Mann Aerv. “I’m very grateful to them (participants) for the help they extended to my family. From now on, my children and I will be able to finally use a toilet and never go back to the field again,” said Vai Pout, 36 years old, a mother of five children.
The team continued their mission by working on upgrading 3 ring wells for the use of families and villagers in Cha Rokar Community. “This well is very precious to my family and it can help us in many different ways like cooking, bathing and cleaning, and for watering our crops. I’ve waited for a long time and our new friends has made it possible for us and our neighbors,” shared Minh Pich, HFH Cambodia home partner, who also actively participated in the construction work.
Participants also visited Habitat project sites in Angkor Chum Siem Reap and home partners supported by the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene project supported by the Sellers. The visit allowed them to understand that access to simple and available water and sanitation can change lives of families in terms of livelihood and productivity, and significantly improve their health and living conditions.
Each day, the participants would travel about an hour and a half to the villages they serve in Angkor Chum. The build site was far from the main town of Siem Reap, but they knew that in order for them to help transform lives, they must serve where the need is greatest.
The final day of the Hope Journey build was spent alongside over 450 villagers and students of Kor Trakeit Primary School. It was set to be another busy day. They began working on the building and painting the fence for a school Aqua Tower, a water filtration system that can clean upto 10,000 liters of water. Some of them also prepared a new playground area and painted new monkey bars for the children. The younger participants also spent some quality time with the students by teaching them new games and learning new games from the children. Right after a picnic lunch break, the team joined HFH Cambodia, students and villagers in a Hand Washing and Hygiene Promotion. The promotion began with a parade coming from 2 villages. Participants divided themselves into two groups to joined two parades where 450 students and villagers throughout the community came together to raise awareness on good hygiene and sanitation practice.
In the school, children and villagers were educated about concepts of living healthily and were taught proper hand washing, nail clipping and tooth brushing practices. The participants demonstrated proper nail clipping and hand washing amongst different age groups – children, parents and elders. The kids and villagers appreciated the simple but valuable efforts of helping them learn how to care fore themselves.
It was a fun-filled learning day for the children and a heart-warming one for the team. At the very end of the program, the team celebrated the formal Inauguration of Aqua Tower in Kor Trakeit Village supported by the Sellers family.
“It was great experience and beyond my expectations. We learned so many things from Cambodia and life itself. We are amazed by how nice the people are and by the beauty of this Country. I’m glad that I am able to do this with my family, to help and to see all the beautiful children with a great chance to teach students something really important in their lives and to laugh and play with them,” shared Clare Nolan.
The last day in Cambodia, the team took the opportunity to visit the ancient wonder of Angkor Wat.
Hope Journey is a great opportunity to learn, communicate and to relate with people who are deserving of support. It is one among the different special builds and engagement programs Habitat for Humanity has where participants can build strong relationship within the communities Habitat serves, and a chance to be a part of Habitat’s ministry.
“Hope Journey is one of my family’s favorite trips and this is our second Hope Journey trip in Cambodia Cambodia. We have a lot of incredible memories here and it’s our great fortune that we can come back to work with other team members and meet with different families. This year, we are very happy to be able to share the experience with more of our friends and even more home partners and community people. We are also happy to have met Thoun Visal again, one of our home partners from last year’s Hope Journey. He is now able to live with peace and happiness with his brothers and sister in their own house,” Scot Sellers said.
The 2nd Hope Journey is another collaboration between Habitat for Humanity Cambodia and Habitat for Humanity International. Tamara Foglio, Global Engagement Officer Jan Berry, Major Gifts Development Officer, both from Habitat for Humanity International also joined the mission trip. Scot Sellers became a member of the Habitat for Humanity International Board of Directors this year.