No matter whether it’s a Brush with Kindness activity, a Bushfire Resilience day, or a weeklong Global Village program – our volunteers are at the heart of what we do.
Volunteers join our programs from all walks of life, and that’s what makes the experience so enjoyable!
Ket was born in Cambodia, grew up in Melbourne and is an electrician by trade – we were delighted to have him join us on a Global Village Build in Siem Reap, Cambodia, earlier this year. Not only was Ket a great fundraiser and an incredibly hard worker, but he was also kind enough to answer a few questions for us. Au Kun, Ket!
Ket, please tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Ket, I was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Khmer parents and have three older sisters. My family migrated to Melbourne, Australia in 1994 when I was four years old. I have no memories of Cambodia but my family embedded the Khmer culture, food, history and language into my everyday life as I was growing up. I’m proud to say that I’m Khoun Khmer.
How did you hear about Habitat for Humanity Australia and the Global Village program?
I was proactively looking for volunteering opportunities in Cambodia. I came across a Habitat ad, which led me to their website and Instagram. I chose Habitat Australia as I found there to be a lot of information on their website, I connected with the stories and knew it was a worthy cause.
Why did you want to join a Global Village in Siem Reap?
I believe having a place to call home is a basic human right, Habitat Australia also believes that everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live. This program enables volunteers to build a home for a vulnerable family in need – I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to give back to my Cambodian community and reconnect to my roots.
What were your first impressions of both Siem Reap and the Puok District?
I had been to Siem Reap before; I was eleven years old, and it was the first I had visited since leaving as an infant. I remember having a range of different feelings. I was excited to be back – to do the touristy things such as see the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, but I also remember seeing beggars, kids selling souvenirs and amputees on the street which was a big shock to me.
Our Global Village Build was in the Puok District, and it felt pretty rural compared to the central of Siem Reap. You see animals roaming around (cows, chickens, water buffalo…), and your nostrils are filled with the occasional smell of livestock… also, the houses surrounding you are typically elevated up high. It reminded me of the time when my parents showed me my great grandmother’s home – I thought about how she lived.
What were your favourite parts of the program?
My favourite part of the program was interacting with the community, it allowed us to connect and build friendships with those we were helping and working alongside. It was great that we had the opportunity to do different tasks each day, although when they found out that I spoke Khmer and was a qualified electrician, they let me do the electrical work – I wasn’t expecting that – it was pretty cool.
What advice would you have for anyone considering signing up for a GV?
I’d say it was a special experience that changes families’ lives. You get to immerse yourself in the experience and get hands on, to support communities that are in need.
How did you fundraise for the build? Any tips?
I posted a story on my Instagram, sharing that I was fundraising to build a house for a family in Cambodia that needs it. I think my audience liked knowing that their donations were going towards building materials, local labourers and education.
What’s your best memory from the week?
My best memory would have to be interacting with the friendly locals during the build, that’s one to remember. Building alongside the homeowners and seeing how happy they were was really special. Another favourite was celebrating on the last day when we ‘handed over’ the house! Smearing baby powder on each other’s faces (a celebratory Khmer tradition!) and dancing with everyone was really entertaining!
Do you feel as though you achieved what you wanted from the week?
Yes, I felt like we achieved what we wanted to when I saw Sopheak and Nou (the homeowners) tear up as they tried to express their appreciation, and the sheer joy they showed with their new home. I could tell it had definitely changed their lives.