Day 13 – Goodbye for now, not forever

Today was our last day in the amazing village 🙁 In the morning however, there was no time to be sad as the was lots to do! We had to put on the final walls of the house as well as the side roofing, a staircase and some windows. As always though, this group absolutely powered through the work and incredibly had the house finished by lunchtime!! I was like a proud mother Hen 😀

After lunch it was time to make it look pretty and also help the other community members tidy and make the area look fantastic. We had built the final house and there was to be a big ceremony and celebration in honour of that. The volunteers energy levels never wavered and the placed looked immaculate by the time we were done. What an achievement in just a week!

We were lucky enough to have iced milo and ice coffees brought to us from the village and we enjoyed them in the shade of our new hut. Afterwards it was the time for a blessing. The head monk of the pagoda made the trip out to the village to bless each individual house…it was a privilege to be apart of and amazing to see the cultural part of village life.

Once the houses were blessed it was time to hang out with the kids and dance the night away! There was traditional and western dancing all around and the villagers have an unparalleled energy that did not falter! It was an amazing night with the local people and students and dinner was lovingly made for us while we watched traditional aspara dancers.

After dinner it was time for the ceremony and we congregated on the makeshift dirt stage we had built throughout the week. The founder Sambath, gave an very inspiring and humble speech and thanked each and every volunteer for coming out and helping his community while not gaining anything in return. I can however say here that he was wrong one one point because so much was gained by the volunteers and myself from this community. Teaching us what is important in life, what we really need to be happy and a sense of gaining happiness from the simple things. Each volunteer was presented with a bracelet made by the children with their names on it and a traditional Cambodian scarf. Everyone said a few words including the school children and there were not many dry eyes in the house, especially after we all held hands in a big circle and sang the song Imagine by John Lennon. It was gut wrenching to leave this community but after many many goodbyes we made our way to the tuk tuks and had one last view of the village.

As this is my last program I would like to say a huge thank you to the volunteers and everyone at home who helped them be here, they truly have made a difference in the lives of those here in Cambodian (person and animal) and in my life as well. I hope our paths will cross again.

Goodbye for now but not forever!

~ Jess