This was the first time that such a diverse group of volunteers from so many different countries had come together in one location, with a common goal of providing aid to the local community. Despite initial unfamiliarity with both their teammates and their surroundings, the group hit the ground running, starting their first day with Water for Cambodia.
DBAF has been working with Singapore International Foundation and Water for Cambodia for four years on the Water for Life project to provide bio-sand water filters to rural households in the communities. This project aims to provide a clean and sustainable water source to villagers. In that time, close to 1,000 water filters have been installed, benefitting more than 5,000 villagers.
The team spent an afternoon learning about the bio-sand water filters and soon after, armed with work gloves, the group built the water filters from scratch – working with the moulds, mixing the cement and casting the concrete.
The second day saw the team heading out into the villages to install the water filters in the villagers’ homes. This entailed washing gravel and sand several times, pouring them into the filter and treating the filter with chlorine. With the help of local translators, the volunteers were also able to interact with the families and learn about their unique way of life. The hard manual labour in sweltering heat was all worth it upon seeing the happy faces of the families after installation of the filters in their houses. With proper maintenance, the water filter can provide clean water to their households for up to ten years.
The group of volunteers then headed over to Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) to assist with some refurbishment work. AHC provides outpatient, inpatient, intensive, surgical, and HIV care, as well as other services, free of charge, to Cambodian children. Although their standard of living is steadily improving, Cambodians still suffer from endemic poverty and many children die young from treatable or preventable illnesses. Over 120,000 Cambodian children are cared for at AHC every year. DBAF sponsors the hospital’s Outpatient Department.
The volunteers first presented a donation of more than USD7,500 to the hospital management, collected from our employees across the region by our volunteers. This sum of money will provide critical surgeries for four young children, two of whom had their surgeries on that very same day.
One of our volunteers who possesses artistic skills worked on the design for murals on a few walls in the hospital. To brighten up the days of the hundreds of children passing through the hospital and to spark their imagination, he drew up animals and everyday objects in unique settings. The other volunteers attended to his outline with splashes of vibrant colour.
The hospital staff and children were so taken with his designs that the staff requested for him to do up a few more walls, which our volunteer enthusiastically obliged. Beside the mural wall, our volunteers also worked on whitewashing some of the walls and helped out in the hospital’s new garden.
The volunteers were glad to leave behind something lasting for the children, and at the same time, gain knowledge about the difficulties of disadvantaged families in the country and how the hospital works to aid them.