Saturday 29 August 2015

Cambodia Volunteering : 5. House Build #4 Lisa in Phnom Krom and English lessons at the Pagoda


Greetings again from Cambodia which has now been for over a month and has flown by! (and I have a seriously defined right bicep!)

House Build #4 comes from the nearby village of Phnom Krom where we're building a brand new wooden house for a kind young lady named Lisa and her struggling husband with an 18 month old son :)

Apologies if the sound is awful - maybe its just all that hammering! Lisa used to work at the restaurants on the Angkor Night Markets in Siem Reap before falling pregnant with her 18 month year old son (who's just adorable) and has to stay at home to look after him as she has noone else you can rely on.  She had run away from home after being abused by her step mother as a child.  Her husband is mentally challenged and seldom works in construction when he can get any work offers and the little money he earns, they have to spend on food to survive. The husbands father helped build their existing house of thatched palm leaves and sticks and supported them financially until he died 3 years ago. With little money coming in, Lisa and her family spiraled into extreme poverty with living in a shelter that was just not resistant to the rainy season and caved in, bringing in mice and nasty things - no way to live, especially with a baby!

So we got busy demolishing!

And preparing all the wood for the build...

Even Lisa was quite happy to help build her new house...:)

The Volunteer Team with VBC Khmer Builders Sinn, Det and Bunteng after Day One!

Before raising the main posts of the house, neighbours prepared decorations and offerings to the gods for the small ceremony to commerate the blessing of the house foundations - that the land would be a site of good luck and prosperity....

A former monk than came the the site to bless the foundations for Lisa and her family....seems the Buddhist gods like cigarettes quite a bit???....

With the foundations blessed....I guess that gave us permission from the gods to build!

Floorboards done....

Lisa looking on at her future home!

Roof raised and affixing the walls begin on the scaffolding........

Going higher.....

And right to the roof.....

Sinn with his moments of 'how do I bloody work these wonky steps out?' look...

Day Four and the house is complete with a very happy Lisa and family!

The Blessing

On a Friday morning, the morning of the blessing - we usually donate some dollars each to go towards buying a cooking stove and household items in the Old Market in Siem Reap..

Why not throw in a spirit house aswell?

Snowed under?? This family is the going to be spoilt!

Once we'd got the house (they'd waited over an hour for us to arrive as we had taken soooo long at the market) we each held our donated items and walked around the new house three times before ascending the stairs after the monks

Lisa and Suvet and baby boy get comfortable in their new bedroom

As do the monks, ready for the blessing with offerings to the gods...

Sneaky peak of a house blessing ceremony..

The monks then bless the family and everyone else by spraying them with holy water and sprinkling flowers to wish good luck and prosperity on everyone and cleanse the house for a new start

Keys handed over, new house is finally theirs!

With Lisa in tears, it's still all a happy ending and we leave them feeling fuzzy inside and that the sore thumbs are worth it (plus I realise I look like a great big giraffe compared to little Cambodian people!)

Later that more surprise....

Memories of House Build #4..............

Safety first???

The hand the house was built with marked forever haha

Chris and Kim from Australia giving donations to Lisa...

Lisa's little boy wrapped in a brand new donated towel

English Lessons at Wat Preah Prom Rath Pagoda

It's rainy season here in Cambodia, you can pretty much put your watch to the downpours at about 4pm most evenings when fortunately we've finished housebuilding for the day. I was invited by another volunteer to go help with English lessons at the Wat Preah Prom Rath Pagoda on the fringe of the Siem Reap river. Arriving by Tuk Tuk in the torrential rain - I spotted the monks venturing back from town, matching shade of umbrellas with their glorious shade of bright orange robes going of to their dorms to study or back for prayer and monk hood chores.

The holy pagoda already starting to flood!

Monks sheltering from the rain...

The dorms the Monks stay in at the Pagoda

Managing to pretty much ankle wade across the pagoda to the school classroom with the Buddhist chanting to entertain and serenade my wet journey in the rain - I helped with offering my English accent in assisting the students who pay $7 a week for five one hour English lessons by reading to them and pronouncing English words (very articulately might I add) and explaining what they meant (which wasn't always easy!) and trying to make conversation with them by asking questions and trying to get them to practice their English - again, not so easy when their English is just basic but the challenge was to get them talking bless them!

Even a monk comes to classes which is quite a novelty!

Explaining English words and context to eager students

The Cambodian flag colours of Blue represent the regal significance of the King of Cambodia and his place as the sovereign figure head. Red represents the blood of those fallen to protect and serve the Kingdom of Cambodia, Angkor Wat Temple is the beloved landmark of national pride and integrity which appears on EVERYTHING in Cambodia.....and the white represents.....peace, just purity and peace....

 After class, I got taken home in true Khmer style - three on the back of a moto!

Lee hai for now!

Siem Reap, Cambodia

With Lonely Planet Travel Guide Cambodia 

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