Volunteer Spotlight: Calvin

"My experience at the clean water project was so much more than I was hoping for… the two weeks I had were amazing, but it wasn’t nearly enough"

29 year-old Calvin from Malaysia  took 2 weeks off from his busy city job to join the Cambodia clean water project in July 2013. Calvin would jump on one of the mountain bikes provided by Globalteer and cycle the 20 minutes to the water filter construction site every morning. Here he describes a typical week to us:

“After the introduction, I was introduced to other volunteers and showed the steps that go into making a water filter. These steps include sifting sand, setting up the filter mould, mixing concrete, pouring concrete into the mould, removing the mould, washing the concrete filter, and finally painting it. The first 3 days of a week typically consists of repeating these steps to produce a maximum of 6 filters a day. This usually starts in the morning and closes off by noon, as we have to wait for the concrete to dry in the mould before being able to proceed with anything else.

“On Thursday, I joined the water filter team in delivering water filters to the respective beneficiaries. Preparations are made in the morning back at site by packing up bags of gravel, a few gurney sacks of sand (heavy), and the whole concrete filter itself (much heavier! Each must have weighed at least 100 kgs!) onto the back of a truck. What follows is sitting on the back of a truck for an hour long drive out to the rural villages in the outskirts of Siem Reap.

Travelling to the villages

“This is where things get surreal as I am introduced to new sights of poverty I have never come across. Villages with barely a driven path, wooden houses on stilts and farm animals, some without a consistent water source (and by consistent water source, I meant a well), children taking baths in muddy rivers, and villagers using buffalo carts as a means of transport to the city to sell their wares.

"The beneficiaries of the water filters are usually the luckier ones, as they would have a well dug by our ‘well digging’ team before they would get the water filters. Delivering the water filters involve setting it up and educating the new owners how to use, maintain and clean them for everyday use. The whole process of delivering wells would usually last until the late evening, with lunch usually taken at the community elder’s house. By the end of the day, I would usually end up exhausted and dirty all over. “

The amazing Cambodian spirit

“The staff showed me the Cambodian spirit that helped build the country after the Khmer Rogue regime. It is amazing to see their discipline and efforts, taking pride in their work to contribute to the development of the rural areas. Never have I once seen any of them vent out their frustration despite facing various adversities. They have been all smiles, warm and welcoming.
“My experience at the water filter project was so much more than I was hoping for. I had hoped to experience how a water project can contribute to a sustainable development. I learnt that so much more about the additional efforts that they contribute to development of the communities they worked with.

"The insight I gained through this experience opened up a new perspective in terms of poverty. I had mixed feelings as I went through these experiences, but I appreciate every single one of them. I believe I have changed as a person having gone through these events. If there is anything I would say as a final advice to other volunteers for this experience, it would be that the 2 weeks I had were amazing, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

Amazing people, awesome experiences
"The best highlight of my time at Globalteer was the other volunteers I met from various other different projects. Despite being the only one from the clean water project most of the time, everyone was warm and welcoming, especially after a few beers and cocktails. I would most definitely recommend Globalteer to friends and family, Why? Amazing people, well organized and awesome experiences."

Find out more about volunteering at Globalteer's water filter project on our Volunteer Cambodia Clean Water Project page