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Q&A with Annie – reflections from Cambodia

Earlier this month, Habitat staff member Annie embarked on her first Global Village build as a team leader in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Over one week, her team of 31 volunteers built three homes for families in need. Annie also over fundraised and raised an amazing $4,050. Read her reflections on this unforgettable experience below and some of her fundraising tips!

1. Can you describe the experience in a few sentences?

My recent Global Village Build in Cambodia has affected me in a most profound way. It was an incredibly humbling and moving experience, working alongside our partner family and a group of like-minded, passionate and enthusiastic volunteers to help to build not only a home, but the foundations for a better future. I will carry the smiles of our partner family in my heart with me forever.

2. Tell us a bit about what the week involves?

After our team had the opportunity to get to know each other with a team building cultural day, the real work began. Each day we would head out early in the morning to the build site and on arrival, wait for instructions on the daily tasks to be completed by our site foreman and skilled workers (via our translator).
Our first day involved digging a lot of holes so our arms got a great workout! As the week progressed, we completed tasks like mixing cement, stripping bamboo with machettis, cutting and chiselling wood (by hand!), brick laying and rendering. We assisted our skilled workers erect the timber frames for the walls and roof, and hammered in a lot of nails to secure the bamboo flooring. Our partner familiy worked alongside us, and as the week progressed they became increasingly comfortable,all of us interacting as best we all could with the language barrier.
We would then head out at the end of a hard days work for dinner and talked about our achievements, challenges and reflections of the day.

3. What was your favourite part of the week?

On the first day, we met our partner families and had the opportunity to hear their story which moved most of us to tears. At the end of the week when we handed over the home we had built together it was very emotional again – the tears this time were joyous!

We were welcomed into the new family home for the first time where we all had an opportunity to express our hopes and best wished for their future. Knowing that their 3-month old baby would now have a safe and secure place to live was the best way to say farewell.

4. Why should others get involved?

The experience will awaken you. It will change your perspective on life, and give you a great sense of purpose and achievement. Having a safe and decent place to live is something many of us take for granted. Going on a Global Village Build is a fantastic opportunity to see first-hand, the real difference you can make in the lives of those in need of a hand up. Plus, you’ll get to work hard, make amazing new friends and have the opportunity to travel to a part of the world you may not have necessarily had the chance to see.

5. How did you fundraise for Habitat?

I used a home video (filmed on my iPhone) to appeal to family and friends for support. I emailed to my contacts and posted on my social media accounts. The video was raw, unedited and from the heart.

6. What was it like fundraising for Habitat?

I found it easy to fundraise. I think the proposition for support is tangible and real – building a home and a better life for those in need of it most.
People within my network understood the value of their support through the hands on work I was about to undertake, and I was fortunate that many were generous with their giving. I set a fairly ambitious fundraising target and felt a so happy and quite proud coming so close to reaching it.

7. Any tips for others who are fundraising?

Reach out to friends and family first and utilise any social media or networks to leverage support. Tell the story and be authentic. Bring potential supporters on a journey with you and get them invested the story by talking about motivations for volunteering, and highlight the real difference their support can make in the lives of families in need of a safe and decent place to live.

8. Any last comments?

I couldn’t recommend this experience more highly to anyone. I had such an amazing week and I know that I have played a very small part in helping a family secure a better future, and this makes me so happy.

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