Two years ago, Peter Gardiner CP took a group of volunteers to Cambodia to build houses for poor families. The trip was done with the organization, “Volunteer Building Cambodia” (VBC). Peter had been keen to take a group to do something like this for some time, and after considering different options, settled on VBC who see their mission as encouraging young people to volunteer for worthwhile work in developing countries. They aim to improve the living conditions of families in need in rural areas by providing them with wells, toilets and safe, dry housing. You can view their website to find out more at www.volunteerbuildingcambodia.org.
Peter was careful to find an organization that truly helped the poor and not exploited them for tourism’s sake. The organization falls under ‘Projects Abroad,’ which is an NGO that was founded in 1992. Since its inception they have placed nearly 100,000 volunteers and interns on meaningful projects throughout the developing world.
Recently VBC sent Peter an update and impact assessment on the houses that he and his volunteer group built. Peter and the group of volunteers he took with him on that trip built 2 houses. The report for one of the houses they built on that trip reads:
“Since you built this house and helped change the life of this family, there has been a positive impact to their living standard. The observation after the house was built, the family is able to send their child to go to school and she is now in grade 8.
“The family reported during this last 6 months, they are healthier than they used to be. Previously, they were often so sick and were not able to work hard and improve their living condition and did not have enough resource to support for the family. Receiving this house has changed their life mentally and physically. They are less worried about the house condition. The new one they’ve got is very comfortable and enjoyable enough for them not to worry about the safety of their family. The child is able to go to school every day with a good healthy life. The family has the creative ideas for themselves they put a sitting area and made the new kitchen which makes their life is easier. After the house was built, the family painted the walls and the posts and they rebuilt the new stairs to be easier for taking the motorbike up to the house. The family now requests for a cow. The main reason is the mom has time to look after it and they are also closes to the lake so it is easy to feed the cow.
“In brief, you and your team have helped change the life of this family and they are now living in happiness. The daughter is able to get education with the new life and new hopes. In the future, the family plan to make a concrete room downstairs.”
The impact assessment on the other house they built on that trip reads:
“Over years after the house was built, the family is showing a huge positive impact in their family life. They are able to send their children to go to school to get education.
“Receiving the house has changed their life mentally and physically. They are less worried about the house condition. The new one they’ve got is very comfortable and enjoyable enough for them not to worry about the safety of their family. The children are able to go to school. Even though the children were getting sick, the parents are able to gain more income to support for the family and cure the illness. The father works harder and the mother look after the house and the children.
“The family has made some positive changes to their home. They put a sitting area and made the new kitchen and put in walls at the back of the house, which makes their life easier and more homely. The family requests for a water well and the main reason is to make their children easier to use the water.
“You and your team have been an important part of changing the lives of this family and, they are now much happier and more secure. The children are able to get an education with the new life and new hopes. In the future, the family plan to add the shade to the back of the house.
“On behalf of VBC we really appreciate and can’t thank you enough for your kindness, your time and your passion for volunteering with us to change and improve this family’s living conditions to make their life better.”
Peter is organising another trip with VBC for the end of the year, though he personally won’t be able to go. He already has a group of volunteers and met with some of them this week to explain details. Through the website, anyone interested can be in touch with VBC to plan such a trip.