Friday, May 18, 2012

Home Renovations - Cambodian Style

One of the enjoyable aspects of living overseas in a cross cultural setting is that you are always learning new things. For someone who does not like routine and thrives on variety, Cambodia is a place that offers me much in the way of daily adventure and variety. So this past week, I'm learning lots through my Operations Manager Nary as we are in the midst of renovations of our Ratanak Achievement Program (RAP) Community home.
New toilets waiting to be installed

Unlike North America, where we can go to Home Depot and pretty much find all that we need to do renovations, this is not really the case in Cambodia. One stop shopping is not the norm but the exception, so when out of the blue one discovers a place that can provide a variety of items needed for renovation, it is noting short of a miracle! Such was our case this week. Here in Cambodia, if you want the work to be done properly, you actually go and buy the materials and the products yourself. You don't enlist a contractor to do all of that. They just provide the labor but you have to buy the parts!
A Workman repairing one of the bathrooms
Given that I have never  renovated a home in Canada, I had no idea what to expect here. So am thankful that the Lord has  blessed us with a capable Operations Manager who is not only competent but who single handily arranged for all the home renovations to the RAP home this week. She is not just like a foreman or in this case a forewoman who instructs the workers what to do, but through her contacts, she knew where to find the cement, the sand, zinc, electric wiring materials, toilets,bathroom fixtures and lights to name a few of the items purchased. But she was also like a lawyer, drawing up legal contracts or agreements and negotiating a price for the work and the time it is to be done. She is not only a ''Jill of all trades'' but a master of many things! Every dimension of this renovations involves bargaining and negotiating prices and so it is great to have staff who are skilled negotiators. To say that we appreciate her giftings is an understatement. Within 3 days the materials were bought and the work has started.
Re-wiring the home
We anticipate all the renovations will be done in early June and then all of our newly hired staff who will work at the RAP home will move in there as it will also house our offices for the RAP staff. It is a really nice size property with eight rooms and six bathrooms with lots of windows, so it not only meets our existing needs but has space for expansion. It creates an opportunity for us to have both staff training and client training onsite without being an intrusion into the girls private space. But the most important factor for us in choosing this place is that it needed to be culturally relevant, it needed to reflect the kind of environment that the young women will be re-integrated back into. One of our staff said it reminded them of a home in the rural areas. There are mango trees on the property and today I learned that there are also jackfruit trees and another fruit which I thought was a pomegranet tree but then figured, that pomegranets may not grow in climates like this.
The Mysterious fruit Tree!
 Nonetheless, the fact that there are fruit trees on the property plus a fair bit of land to plant and create a garden is another unexpected blessing as we believe it will be a wonderful therapeutic exercise for the young women. One of the other blessings is the quiet and peaceful surroundings. In one of our previous blogs we mentioned how noisy at times it can be in Cambodia, but at the site of the RAP home, there is a peacefulness and a serenity that is felt just standing near the fruit trees and feeling a gentle cool breeze.

As we looked around the neighborhood, the road is being prepared to be paved and flooding seems to be not an issue in spite of the recent torrential rainstorms that we have had here. We noticed some of mansions being built in this quiet neighborhood which is a good thing as it means that some one important will likely be living nearby and as such, the likelihood of consistent electricity is high! Nonetheless, we will probably have a small generator onsite.

All in all, we are once again thankful to the Lord for how He has directed us on this end. Both Nary and the pastor of local Khmer church that we are partnering with, independently found this home to rent for us. As well, God has not only given us an incredibly low rental fee given the property size but we are thankful to one of our supporting churches who is funding the capital set up of this home. We continue to be in awe of the Lord's provision, His faithfulness and His timing in providing the workers and the staff needed to help us make this dream of a community home become a reality. He truly has been our pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, guiding and directing our steps as we look to Him to supply all our needs according to His glorious riches!

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