Today we started our morning bright and early again and immediately got started working on the house. Our goal for today was to completely FINISH the house. It was hot, hot, hot and there was a lot of work to be done. While two groups hopped up on the roof to start installing the ceiling, the last group continued to paint all the wood for the sides. We worked for three straight hours and were able to get two of the three parts of the ceiling completed and paint all the wall boards. Every one was getting excited and a bit anxious at the sight of the house coming together!
After lunch we got straight back into it. One group went to finish the front part of the roof while another group started on the back wall and another on the floor boards. There was about 20 different hammers pounding away. Every one, including the locals, were working side by side and so focused on finishing the house. It was incredible to watch.
Everyone had been working very hard for about two hours so we decided to take a break and were invited to be apart of the hair cutting ceremony of a wedding (sweaty clothes and all)!! One of the teachers at the school we are working at was getting married. Cambodian weddings can last anywhere from 1.5 days to an entire week. Music is constantly played, outfit changes are common and wedding singers narrate it all! The hair cutting ceremony starts by parading the groom in like a king alongside his groomsmen (One of our daily tuktuk drivers was a groomsmen!!). Then the bride comes out of her house with her bridesmaids. After a few blessings, the couples in the village with a strong, solid relationship approach the couple one by one and pretend to cut the newlyweds hair. It is a symbol of an offering and blessing for a healthy relationship. To witness this ceremony was truly something else. The entire village was so welcoming and beautiful!
Once the ceremony was over we headed back to the school to finish up the house. We worked for about one more hour to completely finish the floor board and siding. Shouts and happy screams were all around as the last nail was hammered. WE FINISHED THE HOUSE!! We then had a house warming ceremony. The local children played traditional music and we sang and danced around the house three times with the sleeping material that will be used in the house. Once that was complete, the house was officially in use!
Instead of going back to town, the village held a going away party for us. All the local children preformed dances for us, we ate dinner and then sang and danced the night away with them. We ended the night by each volunteer and local giving thanks and talking about their experience the last week. Tears were all around and it was such a touching moment to see two different communities and cultures come together as one. The children each gave the volunteers a handmade bracelet with their name and we all joined hands one last time to sing the song “Imagine” by John Lennon. In that moment we all became dreamers together 🙂 We said our final goodbyes and finally headed back into town after a 12 hour day that the village.
Today was a long and emotionally exhausting day for everyone. Thank you to SHCC and the village of Kro Bei Riel for giving us an incredible week. We can’t wait to come back! Tomorrow is a free day for the volunteers as we get ready to head to the elephant sanctuary Sunday!