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April Open Team

The April Open Team took place from 26-29 April 2018. It was a smooth and efficient trip for 15 volunteers, many of whom were volunteering overseas for the first time.

The beneficiary for this Open Team was a widowed mother and her daughter. The 34-year-old lady’s husband was tragically murdered last year, leaving her with her 2-year-old girl. This is the house they stayed in before the Open Team built a new house for them.

Regular full-time work is hard to come by in rural areas. Furthermore, this lady struggles to work while taking care of her baby girl. She had no means of upgrading the house she lived in. The April 2018 Open Team gifted her a new house she can proudly call home, one in which her baby girl can grow up, sheltered from the sun and storm.

The Itinerary

As per OHF’s usual arrangement, the team met directly at Phnom Penh International Airport at the specified time. With OHF’s Open Teams, volunteers book their own air tickets in and out of Phnom Penh. This allows volunteers more flexibility and autonomy over their schedule, as well as flight costs. They may choose to fly in earlier or leave Phnom Penh later for their own touring of the country. After being picked up at the airport, the team made a stop at AEON Mall Phnom Penh to purchase some snacks and comfort food, before heading back on the mini-bus for the long 2-hour ride to Hope Training Centre (HTC). The volunteers were accommodated at HTC, OHF’s own training centre, where we run a skills training program for rural youth (TJSSS). After dinner and a short icebreakers session, the team headed up to their dormitories to rest up for the next day.

Days in Cambodia start early. For this trip in April, the sun rose at about 5.30am each morning. The team met for breakfast at 7.00am, after which they were given a tour of the HTC compound and a short introduction to our TJSSS programme. Then, the team left HTC for their work site by lorry.

Upon arrival at the work site, the house was already built halfway, up to this stage.

Each house building project takes about 5 days in total. In order to keep our Open Team trips short, our community development team starts the building of the house prior to the team’s arrival. The team can then join in the construction and handover the house to the beneficiary before concluding their trip.

After receiving instructions from our team coordinator, La, the team got down to work excitedly. They worked tirelessly, even refusing to take breaks when prompted to, because they wanted to finish the project as quickly as they could. The team helped mainly in the nailing of the bamboo flooring as well as wooden walls.

Lunch was delivered to the worksite where the volunteers had a lunch break before continuing with construction.

This enthusiastic and assiduous team worked so fast that they finished a job that takes most Open Teams 2 days to complete, in just one day. By the end of the first day of construction, they had completed the house building project.

On the next day, the team returned to the site of the completed house. This time, to distribute milo drinks to children from the village. We invited 100 children from the village to come and receive hot milo from the team. About 130 children turned up. Thankfully, we had enough to feed all the children.

After the milo distribution, the team officially handed over the house to the beneficiary. The beneficiary is provided with an official title deed to prove that the house belongs to her. All this is done in the presence of the village chief.

Going the extra mile

The team set off for the open team with a singular objective, that is to help in whatever ways they can. An open team typically does not include milo distribution, but the team wanted to do more, and so during the team’s pre-trip briefing, they requested to include this in their volunteer project.

The team further contributed by getting colouring sets, toys, 2 sets of clothes, as well as some other home use items for the widow and her daughter. To extend the longevity of the wooden planks which make up the walls, the team also purchased paint to provide the house with a layer of protection from the elements. They did all this on their own initiative and out of their own pockets. April 2018 Open Team, we thank you and honour you for your altruistic heart and genuine desire to make a difference to someone’s life. May you be blessed.

Given the extra time from completing their building project earlier than expected, the team was also able to spend time with some of our TJSSS staff and students, interacting and playing sports & games with them. Both the students and volunteers thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity for interaction and cultural exchange.

The impact you can expect

The team was able to make a stop at a house nearby for a short while. This house was built by the NTU OVE team in 2016. The owner of the house is an old lady of 74 years of age. She was very excited to see the volunteers and recognised our team coordinator La from OHF. She expressed her thanks to OHF for the house that she has been living in for two years, and shared that ever since she received the house, she has not fallen sick. We are very happy to know that 2 years on, she is still enjoying the house we built for her. What she shared helps us to know that we are making a difference to people and encourages us to keep doing what we are doing

We hope you enjoyed reading about this Open Team and that you will join us on an Open Team soon! Click https://ohf.org.sg/open-teams/ for more information about Open Teams as well as available dates, or e-mail your queries to volunteer@ohf.org.sg.

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