Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Our Global Village build: what we actually built.

Now that you know why we did this, who we helped, and how Global Village builds work, it's (finally!) time to talk about what we actually did over our five days on the construction site!

Global Village builds are a lot different than the blitz builds you may be familiar with in the US. Houses and build sites are much smaller, home designs are simple, and it's possible to complete most of a home in just one week. One week! Crazy.

Our team (hereby known as "we") worked on two homes during our week-long build. The home for Sam Oul's family (House #2) was in its initial stages so we just helped with a few tasks:
  • digging a hole and installing concrete rings for the septic system


  • assembling rebar posts, digging holes and assisting skilled workers with installing the rebar and pouring concrete for the pillars

halfway there


After a lot of sweat and muscle work, House #2 didn't look much different on Friday than it had on Monday, but at least the base work was done. Our construction lead joked on Friday that he would "finish it up" when we left - probably much more quickly than we would!

There was a lot more work at Thary's home (House #1).
  • every day involved setting up, deconstructing, or moving scaffolding
the work that never ends -
kinda like digging a hole and filling it right back in

  • we created a similar septic system setup as House #2 and we built the toilet base

after(ish) -
the brick would be knee-high when finished

  • we smoothed knots on a few dozen bundles of bamboo strips and installed the flooring


  • we nailed bamboo poles to create the exterior walls, and trimmed the excess


  • we installed pressed concrete sheets (similar to drywall) for the main room walls - the skilled workers measured and cut, we held boards and nailed - and we installed bamboo sheets for exterior walls


  • we helped build a staircase

almost there

(staircase on the left -
ladder sold separately)

And at the end of the week, the house was practically finished. The construction staff estimated that Thary's family would be able to move in the following week.

way before

Monday (before)

Friday (after)

We had the dedications on Friday. HFH Cambodia's dedication ceremony is really participatory. At each house the new homeowners held a ribbon and we all took turns snipping it; the homeowners got the final cut.

cutting the ribbon at Sam Oul's future home

Thary's final snip

Then we stood in a "circle line" (my favorite new way to say "circle") and passed a ginormous key around - the idea being that everyone touched the key for luck.

moi bpee bai!
(one two three!)

After this we all crowded into Thary's new home and everyone shared a few words with the group ("thanks for letting me be a part of this," "much love and happiness in your new home," that sort of thing). The homeowners were really gracious and grateful, and more than a few people got a little choked up.

We sang three songs during the ceremony. Our group had chosen "I'll Always Remember You" (yes , Miley Cyrus - but it actually worked really well once a few lines were changed to reflect our Habitat experience) and "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac. Our HFH Cambodia team translated the words before we sang each song so that the homeowners would have the context, and seeing their smiles of understanding was priceless.

how to sing Miley Cyrus in Khmer

At the end we threw flower petals in the air to bless the house, and finally we sang a fun Khmer song that loosely translates to "work is done, let's have some fun!"

still can't get this tune out of our heads

And the house stood strong even with 25 people dancing in a "circle line" - a pretty good sign, we think!

cleanup on aisle 12...

Sooooo many more photos can be found starting here. It was a great week and in case we haven't been perfectly clear, we highly recommend this experience. Thank you once again, Team CamCan2014 and HFH Cambodia! We hope to see you all again!


slow but steady progress

One of HFH Cambodia's main focuses - and why we were there during our week - is to serve families and orphan-risk children infected/affected with HIV. HFH Cambodia also focuses on water and sanitation programs and financial literacy across the country. They have set an aggressive goal to serve 125,000 families by 2018. Please help them achieve this goal by clicking here. Or find your local Habitat affiliate and donate - decent housing is a worldwide need. Thank you!


  1. this reminded me of when Andy sang "I Will Remember You" in Season 9 of "The Office"

    1. Yeah... only it was not at all like that.