• War, Peace and Reconciliation in Cambodia

Building from the Soul

Today we volunteered with the Life and Hope Association. They are a local NGO with many projects, including a sewing school for girls, a foreign language school, Buddhist outreach, food for school, an orphanage, and a scholarship program for girls to go to high school. LHA is run by a network of monks with the goal of bettering the lives of women and children, the mothers and futures of Cambodia as they say.

In the morning we met with the head of LHA and learned a little bit about their work, their vision, and their methods. He is a US educated man, with a bachelors from St. Ambrose in Iowa and a masters from Harvard. He talked about the work that his organization is doing is also done by many other NGOs, but they work out of love and kindness from the heart for the people. He had a strong tie to the individual as well as to the betterment of Cambodia as a whole.

After our introduction we headed out of town to help build a new house for a very needy family. When we arrived the monks were in full swing framing the structure. They had some very cool orange tool shirts just for monks. Soon, the guys on the trip were able to help lay down the floor and the house really seemed to be coming together. Unfortunately, due to local superstitions, the women were precluded from assisting in the actual construction; they believe that a problem with the house in the future would be the fault of women building it. In addition, the large number of our group overwhelmed the monks so we ended up spending the afternoon at the market getting building supplies to make the process easier tomorrow. Along with the tools, we bought some essential items (blankets, mats, pillows, mosquito nets) for the mother and son that are going to live in the house.

We are excited for another day of volunteering with LHA tomorrow and being able to see the completion of the project so many of us have been looking forward to. Also, we would just like to say thank you again to all who donated to us here in Cambodia for this project we and everyone here in Cambodia are so thankful.

The monks had extreme balance abilities, even when barefoot!
These children were playing around the construction site. We had some fun teaching them letters and numbers.
Some more children
The team of monks leading the project