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December 2011

2012 'Pre-Flight Ramblings (Bob Carver, December 27th, 2011)


Well faithful followers, here we go again. R4T6 is in the history books, and we are now focused on making sure our biggest team ever of 22 hardy hammerers all have rooms, and that we have everyone's flight arrival info. Those of you who know me well have already correctly deduced that it is Wendy who is on top of that one.

This year we have nine veterans being joined by thirteen rookies, who by the end of Day 1 will be seasoned pro's. It sounds awfully easy when we tell folks that all we do is finish our houses, hammering the floorboards and corrugated tin walls. But with average temps of 37 celcius it is not quite as easy as it sounds.

Our team's fundraising efforts this year has enabled us to commit to completing 30 houses in Koh Kong province. A few months ago we down-sized our number from 40 houses as it looked like our build team was going to top out at 17, which would have made 40 houses unrealistic. Janne wisely limits builds to a three day maximum, as people begin to crash (heatstroke) and burn (literally) if builds go beyond three days.

Because we are finishing fewer houses, we knew that we would have some extra funds and, as usual, we asked Janne if there was something pressing that the extra dollars could go towards. She immediately replied that our build area this year is in need of a six room school. Cost - fifty thousand dollars. This is for a poured concrete base, brick and mortar school that will enable over 400 children from four villages in the area to get an education.

We replied that we thought it was a great project to put our extra money towards, thinking that we would have around twelve grand to put in the pot. A little extra pressure was brought to bear when Vonn, the Tabitha staffer for the area, ran with the ball and broke ground for the project, saying words to the effect; 'It's Bob, Wendy and Paula, they can do it."

Gulp.

'Quick, let's do the math.' 25k from our first corporate partner Lush Handmade Cosmetics, 4500 from R4T, around 14k from our builders; total 43,500 -  32 for our houses, let's see that leaves 11,500 towards the school. Oh well, good start!

As is often the case with our team's work, something fortuitous happened at R4T. A man and his wife asked Wendy if they could get a few minutes of my time after my contribution to the night's entertainment. 'No problem.' The next act was up and rockin', so the conversation took a little effort, but Tony asked me for some info on what our work was about. I explained the reasons why we chose to support Tabitha. How we had worked our way from sending money to Janne for wells, then became involved in the house-building program and, most importantly, how Tabitha 'does it right.'

This maybe ten minute conversation concluded with Tony saying "Well, I was going to hold onto this and give it to you at the end of the night, but here, we'd like to support your work." "Why thanks very much' I replied, (a quick look at the cheque, but my feeble eyes can't make out the number) "Not to be gauche Tony, but I can't see the amount, how much is it for?"
Tony replied; "Eleven Thousand Dollars"

While I can't remember my exact response, it was something along the lines of; 'holy crap, are you serious?'

He was, and we now have our second corporate partner as Tony is the CEO of Modern Niagara Group an engineering and HVAC company based in Ottawa.

Tony and his wife Barb were happy to have their generous support directed towards the school, bringing us almost half way to our goal. Tony then, on his own accord, approached another Ottawa area construction company, and it looks like we will be getting another cheque for ten thousand dollars from them!

I am pretty confident that, even though time is getting short, we will get what we need to fully fund the school before we leave for  this year's build!

Every year's build is unique, new builders, returning builders. Cambodia is a very addictive part of the World; addictive because many who visit are touched and want to go back and do more. Over the years there have been a some who have joined our build who 'don't get it' and fail to understand why we keep returning. Most who join us, however, do get it, and return to build again or keep in touch with us over the years. It is these people that we form a real connection with - one that is hard to explain unless you have experienced a build.

We leave in 30 days and can hardly wait to get back to Cambodia, reconnect with Janne and the Tabitha staff, enjoy our time at the Billabong Hotel, our little oasis in Phnom Penh, and especially to get back into the field where all our efforts come in to sharp focus; the villagers whose faces become etched in our memory.

We will visit the village we built in 2 years ago, and we will visit the school!

It is good.

Bob and Wendy