VBC - Celebrating house 200

VBC – Building a better future

It’s celebration week for VBC this week.

We’ve reached a major milestone as we build our 200th house this week.

Our achievements:

  • Four and a half years.
  • 200 houses
  • 40 wells
  • 85 toilets
  • A warehouse
  • A community Centre with four classrooms, computer room and library
  • More than $900,000 in sponsorship

We think that’s pretty impressive for a small, grassroots organisation.

Founder, Sinn Meang is amazed at how far the organisation has come since its early days.

VBC started from humble beginnings in March 2014, operating with three part-time staff – Sinn, our original builder, Buntheun and our former volunteer coordinator, Jason. Our original houses were made from palm fronds and took up to three months to build. The process was slowly refined and became two weeks but they were built sporadically.

Today we average about one a week with the house build taking about four days and the house blessing ceremony is held on the fifth day. The houses all have wooden frames, concrete stumps and a tin roof so they are much more stable. House #200 will have a new design - including an extra window and some other improvements, which will be incorporated in every house we build. Some weeks we don’t have any builds and we focus on toilets, other weeks we build three houses. And there was that crazy week in January when we built 11 houses in one week. It tested our founder, but he proved his mettle when it comes to embracing a challenge. We worked together as a team to make it happen. And that’s something we’ve been working on more this year – team work and capacity building for our staff.

More than houses – building a community

But it doesn’t stop there. VBC has become so much more than houses. We’re not just building homes for people, we’re building a community and a future. We’re playing a small part in changing lives, creating opportunities and growth and we’re helping to fight the cycle of poverty.

This started with the warehouse, where we also employ a local man, who we built a house for and in busy times we provide casual work for other villagers. We always try and give this work to those families we have built houses for.

And oneThere’s also the construction of our community centre and school where more than 200 students learn English and we are starting to teach computer skills.

It’s been an amazing achievement that we are so proud of. The classes at the community centre, supplement the Khmer government school curriculum, providing skills many of these students would not have access to without our centre.

Capacity building

VBC is not just about helping those most in need. Sinn is passionate about raising the skills for the entire VBC team to ensure they are continually growing.

“VBC is not just about helping the poorest people in our community,” Sinn says.

“My vision is to help all Cambodian people, and I want to see young people rise up and have opportunities in their career to go further and to earn more money. This is a passion of mine.” 

Meet the recipients of house #200

Wen, 26, his wife Pheap, 24, and their two children – a five-year-old daughter and four-year-old son – are so excited to be receiving a new house. They are pictured here in front of their existing house. There are gaps in the palm frond walls and roof and during the rainy season the water comes in. The floor is part wood, part bamboo with large gaps in it. They get wet and uncomfortable trying to sleep.

The morning we visited to chat to them, they were checking the land to find the best place to build the new house. And they held a small blessing ceremony to bring good luck for the decision.

The couple are farmers. They have a small plot they try and farm for themselves, located a long way from Siem Reap, but this year they have not had enough money to buy chemicals and so have not been able to get a good crop from it. They also farm for other people, planting and harvesting rice and other crops as requested. Or they cut trees to burn to create charcoal, which is sold for people to cook with.The work is seasonal, irregular and low-paying. It also means they need to be away from home a lot so their daughter has not been able to start school.

Wen went to school until grade three and can read a little bit and Pheap left in grade two (of 12 grades) and cannot read or write.

They are unable to get better paying work in the city because they do not have transport to get to town. Both of them would like to learn skills to improve their opportunities. Pheap says she would like to learn how to sew and Wen is interested in building.

Thank you!

The fact is, without all of you – our amazing volunteers and sponsors – none of this would have happened.

We appreciate every single donation we have received, no matter how big or small. Because everyone gives what they can and every bit make a difference.

But we would like to make special mention of some of our biggest supporters. Without these people, VBC would not be what it is today – an organisation with 14 staff, a community centre providing English language and computer classes and a team continually growing in skill.

We have to make special mention of Salesforce and its employees, who combined, have donated more than $220,000 to VBC since we started in 2014. It's a phenomenal amount of money and this amazing contribution has helped us become what we are today.

Other significant contributors include:

  • Karl and Annie Maughan
  • Brendan Yardley
  • Deanna Fegan
  • Salesfix
  • Griffith University, Australia
  • International School of Koje, Republic of Korea
  • Korea Internatinoal School, Republic of Korea
  • The Hertfordshire & Essex High School, England
  • Byron Bay High School, Australia
  • Fairholme College, Australia
  • St Joseph's Institution International School, Singapore
  • Gapforce
  • World Youth Adventures

Thanks to these amazing people and organisations and to all our supporters over the years. You have provided the foundations to build dreams and create brighter futures. Every single one of you has helped us on our journey. Every book, every bag of rice, every dollar helps us to do what we do.