House building in Cambodia

Some families participating in the Family Savings Programme are able to eventually earn and save enough money to build a sturdy house. For very poor families who can’t save enough, Tabitha coordinates volunteer building teams to supply the additional money and work under the direction of Khmer builders to construct simple houses.

Get involved

Participate in house building.

Some of the ongoing benefits to be gained by house building as opposed to just sending money are:

  • During the Pol Pot era, Khmer people were made to feel they were of no value –some Khmers still feel they are worthless. When volunteers come from overseas it helps them to start believing in their own value.
  • Builders can combine fundraising with a hands-on building project. This gives a sense of how their funds are directly targeted to those in need.
  • Participants return home inspired by their experience of actively making a difference in another family’s life and continue to participate in further Tabitha activities and fundraising.

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A typical house-building trip will begin with an insightful orientation session from our founder Janne Ritskes that usually takes place in Phnom Penh and includes an opportunity to visit some of Cambodia’s sites of interest. Volunteers will have the chance to learn first hand about the causes of, the results of and, most importantly, the solutions to poverty. The team will then travel to a project site to carry out the work. Each team must raise USD $1500 per house, which includes a donation for the local community to participate in the Family Savings Programme as well as the cost of a well for that community. In addition, a donation of US$1500 per house-building team is required, which will be applied to the Family Savings Programme. Tabitha prepares the cement posts and the frame and the teams finish the house under the supervision of local Tabitha staff. Most teams can build four to six houses per day.

Community elders and Tabitha staff select the neediest families, who are to receive a house, from within a community.  Each family will contribute its savings (usually $40 – $100) from the Family Savings Programme — this buys a small piece of land and some of the materials. It may take nearly four years to save this amount, and while it seems little to us, it is a huge effort for them.

“This programme is about so much more than bricks and mortar. The impact is a shared experience of growth and understanding between cultures. Long lasting friendships have been formed with this work, and volunteers will leave Cambodia with a real sense of achievement by helping Cambodian families become role models for others.”

We ask that volunteers form their own groups of 12 to 20 people independently–often within schools, companies, groups of friends, families, churches and volunteer organisations.   Over the years, teams have organised creative fundraisers such as bike rides, concerts, craft sales and talents shows to raise the necessary monies for their houses.

Aims of Volunteer House Building

  1. To provide an in-depth and meaningful experience for foreigners visiting Cambodia. Team members will experience not only the tourist attractions but will come to understand and befriend Cambodians – both the poorest and the middle class.
  2. To educate volunteers about poverty and the issues involved.  The experience is an education in the causes of poverty, the results of poverty and the solutions to poverty.
  3. To become partners with Tabitha Cambodia in our outreach. Team members, upon returning home, can become volunteer sales people as well as fund raisers for various projects.
  4. To give Cambodians an opportunity to teach foreigners.  Villagers develop a deep sense of pride by teaching foreign visitors the skills of house building.

“The families chosen represent the very poorest in their communities and serve as role models by demonstrating their ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.”

UK donations for house-building teams are eligible for Gift Aid.

For information on arranging house building trips contact us.  To donate toward an existing team click here.