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Published: August 30th 2017
Geo: 14.0583, 108.277
Last Friday I left Siem Reap in Cambodia.
This had been my home for 3 months while volunteering for an NGO called Volunteer Projects Overseas. The building project I had been involved with was one of a kind.
Cambodia in fact most developing countries are full of NGO's the majority of them concentrating their efforts towards orphanages, schools and education and health care.
Our project involved going into a remote village, Bos Village, some 60km from Siem Reap, identifying families who where in the harshest of living conditions and providing them with fresh water a decent roof over their heads and an area where they could house livestock and grow vegetables.
Its the teach a man to fish theory.
The majority of the families that were identified usually consisted of a single mother and young children. In a place like Cambodia a single mother is left with the choice of leaving her children in the care of others while going away to earn a living or relying on the generosity of others., and when everybody else in the village is as poor as you there isn't a lot of spare anything to go around, so the poorest of the poor end up with very little.
This is still a country that has no concept of a well fare system, a minimum wage or equal rights,its the mans job to provide for the family and if there is no man survival becomes far more difficult.
So for the meager sum of around $2000 US, materials can be purchased and then with the help of 3 Khmer guys and a team of volunteers within 6 weeks a family can be living in a reasonable house and have a brighter out look for the future.
The transformation doesn't stop there, the ripple effect of people (volunteers and workers) going to the village and spending money daily on food and water for the days work then impacts on those selling the items, they in turn spend money on food and clothing or other items usually within the same village or area. This means that the whole community benefits from one family getting a house built
I personally had the amazing opportunity to see 2 houses finished and a 3rd well on its way.
Its not often in this life you get the benefit of observing first hand how your effort and ability effects other peoples lives and even less often do we get to do it in a positive way.
Before I left to come to do this work several people had said "how wonderful it was for me to give up my time blah blah blah" I knew before I got here that my input would be nothing compared to what I would get out of it.
Its hard to put into words what it was like when a small boy of 10 years old who has never known what its like to live in a real house, who doesn't have a father to guide him and has a younger brother of 4 years old, who because he is the oldest already has the responsibility of helping his mother provide enough food for all of them, walked up to me placed his palms together looked me in the eye and said
"ah kun" (thank you).
Nothing is more satisfying than that.
I'm thankful for the chance to do something that makes a difference and humbled by the friendliness, kindness and generosity of people who have little but are happy to share it.
We who have had the luck to be born in places where opportunity abounds where we have health care, education, a social system that tries to leave nobody behind, a government which provides infrastructure and true leadership and a safe society where we can feel free to voice our opinions and express ourselves should be grateful because 2/3rds of the worlds population doesn't enjoy that but they all deserve it.
One person cant change the world, but if we all did a little then we can be well on the way.
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