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Cambodia Diary

6 February 2011

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OVER 320 HOMES FOR FAMILIES IN PHNOM PENH !

06 -12 February, 2011

Phnom Pehn, Cambodia

EJAF has been working with Habitat for Humanity for the past year to develop a programme that would not only provide safe, clean homes families infected by HIV, but could become the link to other services – health, job skills – that would keep them well and stable.

On February 6th, the building programme started.  EJAF staff, volunteers and trustees are currently rolling up their sleeves, putting on hard hats and helping community members to build the very first house.   This is a diary of the day to day progress on the build.

DAY 5

Last Day! The roof went on, the kitchen area and bench completed, external brickwork was pointed, and the front door was hung.   We cleaned up the build site, put up banners and prepared for a special handover ceremony to Mrs Pang.

At 1:30pm, three monks arrived to bless the house.   In front of 50 guests, five young girls performed a traditional Khmer dance and there were speeches by the British Ambassador, Anne Aslett our Executive Director, Dr Vun from the Ministry of Health and from Mrs Pang who was very emotional about being handed the keys to her new house. It was a wonderful end to the week and an extremely rewarding experience.

We were all really moved to finally watch Mrs Pang and her family begin to make the house her home.

DAY 4

Lulu in the House!

Today Lulu who is looking at a whole range of projects funded by EJAF came to the site.   She helped us finish the brickwork for the kitchen along with Mrs Pang.

The brickwork for the walls were finally finished, the roof trusses went on, the kitchen completed and tomorrow, we put the roof in place and finish the house.

DAY 3

The hottest day yet.   It was around 35 degrees and no cloud cover at all today.   Day 3 we had to finish off the remaining walls and pour concrete into the beams on top of the brick walls to get ready to install the roof on Day 4.   Manually mixing so much cement was gruelling work and we were all feeling the heat.

The highlight of the day was having Mrs Pang who will move into the house we are building on Friday, come to the building site and join in!    We formed a chain of people to cart the buckets of cement up the scaffolding to pour the cement into the beam boxes.

As a reward for all the hard work, we were very kindly invited to meet the British  Ambassador Andrew Mace at the British Embassy in Phnom Pehn.

DAY 2

Day 1 proved harder than we had expected and we all were tired but still enthusiastic and ready to start Day 2.   Today we had to finish the brick work on all four sides of the house to the roof level.   It seemed even hotter and that little bit closer to the sun working on scaffolding to try complete all the remaining work.   The lintels on all windows and vents in the walls were installed, the front wall started and completed and the front door opening readied for the door to be hung.   We set an ambitious target and almost got there with just a few more brick rows to go.  Another great day of hard work and one step closer to providing a new home for a family affected by HIV/AIDS living in Phnom Pehn.

DAY 1

On the first day of the build, EJAF staff and supporters were asked to build 6 courses (rows) of bricks of the house, install the planned 3 windows and lay the cement porch.Actually we built 8 courses of bricks as well as completing all our other goals. Mixing up the sand and cement was really hard work!  Not only was the heat blistering, by the end of it so were our hands.   All of us became expert brick layers - although some of us focused on quantity rather than quality. The porch proved the hardest task of the day.   14 wheelbarrows of rocks had to be carted to the site and pounded into the earth then covered with mounds of cement mix.  At the end of the day, we were all exhausted but ahead of schedule and a had a great day of fun and teamwork.