Stumbling into this creative project within our first few days in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, was a ridiculously awesome gift from the Universe.
We had just set up our Google Alerts notification to email us whenever “Cambodia” was blogged about (which I really recommend all travelers do before entering a new country – it’s a great way to keep current on interesting events happening in the part of the world you’re visiting) and within 24 hours of creating the alert, we received an email in our inbox talking of Earthships, an art school, and an organization called Let Us Create, Cambodia.
Immediately we decided to investigate, exploring their website for more information, and the very next day we had an appointment with their volunteer coordinator, Silvia, and Kristine, who was one of the volunteers working with them. Both women were very passionate about the work that Let Us Create (LUC) is doing in helping the local community with a nutrition program, Khmer and English lessons to supplement public schooling, and art classes that heal by allowing creative expression.
Their current focus was in building a brand new education center and art school to transfer in to; right now their program operates in a rented building that is too expensive, and has many structural problems that would financially hemorrhage them to keep fixing. LUC’s new school build project was underway, and lucky for us they were looking for volunteers to assist with the build!
For the next five weeks we worked side by side with a group of skilled local builders (who were paid contractors) and a team of international volunteers. Working together in the sweaty humidity of Cambodia’s hot season, we learned the basics of building with recycled materials. Glass beer bottles were gathered from the local bars once weekly by LUC staff and brought to the worksite. Some were used for the foundation, others were cut in half, then taped to the bottom of another same-sized glass, forming an oblong cylinder which was used to create the decorative effect of small stained-glass windows in the walls.
THOUSANDS of glass bottles were put to new use to construct the two buildings. At the end of the first phase of the project, the results were pretty amazing:
Learning the basics of building with recycled materials shifted our perspective and got us creatively thinking about the possibilities of “trash”, and working with such an incredible group of people made our travel rewarding. We absolutely loved being a part of this project.
If you are planning on being in Cambodia September of 2014 and are interested in volunteering for phase two of this project, or working with Let Us Create in other aspects, visit their contact page here.
Have you ever built with recycled materials? What was your experience? Tell us about it in the comments section!