Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Bamboo built new house for Tun Lai

Tun Lai was born in the Bakong district of northern Cambodia (about 18km outside Siem Reap). She comes from a large family, having two brothers and four sisters. All of her siblings now live far away from Lai’s home in Siem Reap. Her father passed away many years ago before she was 13 years old; her mother died when Lai was 18.
Her childhood family had lived in abject poverty so Lai was only able to attend school until grade 3. From the age of 15 she worked as a housekeeper in Siem Reap with all her money going to help support her family. Her employer was not a kind person, blaming Lai whenever things went wrong, so, when she was 18 years old Lai moved back to Bakong so she could be with loved ones. In Bakong she found employment as a cement worker however the pay was dismal, only US$1.00 per day.
One day she met Pas Barang who was working on the same jobsite as a cement worker. 
The young couple married 12 months later.
Barang was also born in the district of Bakong but in a different village to Lai. He has six brothers and one sister who are now all working on the rice farms or as cement workers. His parents are still living. His father is a cement worker while his mother cares for their home. Barang remembers that there was never enough rice to eat in his childhood as his family was poor and their life was very difficult.
With his parents unable to feed and care for their eight children little Barang was sent to live with relatives until he was 16 years old. In this way he was able to at least have a little education up to grade 2 level; after grade 2 there was no choice, he had to go out and find work. Regardless of whatever work he found he was still only paid US$1.25/day. All of his money went to help support his family. Three years later he found a job as a cement worker. These days Barang is able to work most days (if and when there is work available and if weather permits), earning about US$5.00/day.
At present Lai and Barang have three children. Their eldest child, Saven, is in grade 2 at Bakong School. Sadly the little boy struggles with school as he has many responsibilities to manage at home. With both his parents working, Saven is expected to look after his two younger sisters, a job he does very well.
Their second child, a daughter, Srey Lak, is currently in grade 1 at Bakong School. She is doing very well and is getting good grades. Srey Lak is a great help around the house and helps Saven look after their little one year old sister, Srey Lam.
The family owns their house although it is in very poor condition with holes in the roof and in all the walls. The dwelling is very unstable in high winds. They have sleeping mats and mosquito nets however all of the possessions are very worn and dilapidated. The fact is that everything is falling apart.
Sometime ago, Lai and Barang took out a US$600 bank loan. They were in a desperate situation having to pay hospital bills owing from when the children were sick with typhoid and dengue fever. The resulting repayments of US$50 each month are placing an enormous strain on the parents.
Lai and Barang ride an old moto to work each day. They don’t own any bicycles so the children walk to school.

The new home that  put our blood sweat and tears into was a serious upgrade from the place that they previously called home. To some people it may still look like something from a shanty town, but honestly this family will now be the envy of all their neighbors! Simple things such as a tin roof as appose to palm leaf is a luxury item! Imagine not knowing if your roof will collapse every time you have a thunder storm, or how many holes you’re going to have to patch up once the rainy season begins. Sometime with volunteering you can question if what you are doing is making a REAL difference to the people. At The Bamboo team you all know that they take their volunteering seriously, and our aim is to be responsible. No one wants to walk in and complete half a job, so with realistic goals, they decided to get the shell complete, get the walls attached and the roof on, before they handed over to the local Khmer builders to put together the finishing touches.

On the final day it was great to stand back and admire the transformation we had made, but the amazing thing was the generosity of the group didn’t stop there... On the way to the project, the group stopped at the local market to buy the family so housewarming gifts. These included; new pillow cases, a mosquito net (which they desperately needed), a new floor mat for sleeping on, some new outfits for the little girls and a brand new football kit for the lad.

Thank you so much for Bamboo team and NHC team that all of you always done great job !!!










1 comment:

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