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Volunteer for Building Cambodia

Volunteer for Building Cambodia

By Wendy Updated Mar. 2, 2022

Cambodia is a beautiful country, but most of its population still lives in need. Especially in the rural areas, a lot of people lack adequate housing because of their extreme poverty.

The Volunteer for Building Cambodia project aims to provide good shelter to poor families living in the countryside. Having a proper house will significantly improve the living conditions of the locals and give them an opportunity to lead a better life.

If you join the project, you will be part of a team of volunteers guided by skillful workers, and have a chance to build a house from the ground up. You will be working in the beautiful Cambodian countryside while helping the locals.

Cambodia Volunteer


  • Build a house with your own hands and help the Cambodian people
  • Improve the lives of locals living in the rural areas
  • Fight against the poverty that plagues the country
  • Have an extremely rewarding experience

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The project

Living in extreme poverty, Cambodian people are often unable to afford adequate shelter. A lot of NGOs operate in the country to help people, but they lack structure and funds. When they can, they try to hire local workers, but an extra hand is often needed.

Volunteer for Building Cambodia is based in Siem Reap and it was founded in 2004 by Sinn Meang, a local Khmer man. It aims to build houses, wells and toilets for people living in the countryside, where 80% of the population lives with income of less than $1 a day per person. Their houses are often made from cheap materials and lack basic utilities.

The new structures can literally change their lives Families will have better sanitation, increased security, and healthier living conditions. They will be able to work, to attend school and to live healthier lives.

Volunteer for Building Cambodia will assist volunteers to construct a house in just one week, with the help of a skilled team. Its main goal is "to break the poverty cycle and help these families to become more self-sufficient".

Why sign up

Travelling can be an amazing experience. We may see different cultures and lifestyles that might shock us. We may realize that life for some people can be extremely hard. Some places are extremely beautiful but affected by numerous problems.

Cambodia is one of those places. With its kind people, gorgeous nature, and rich culture, it's a country that has a lot to offer, but it also suffers enormously. Volunteering there can be your chance to thank and help the country: being a good traveler may mean being altruistic.

Building a house for someone is a truly rewarding experience. This simple change will significantly improve the quality of living of the family and their happiness.

Asia Highlights encourages responsible travel. If you are willing to help, Asia Highlights will cooperate with Volunteer for Building in Cambodia, to provide you with all the information and help you may need.

The Best Southeast Asia Tour for First-timers

Poverty in Cambodia

Cambodia is a country with many natural resources all over the country. For various reasons, however, Cambodia is still one of the poorest countries in the world.

  • Low education: the country lacks proper structures and training staff, especially in rural areas. Besides, a lot of families cannot afford to send their children to school.
  • High population growth: Cambodia's economy cannot stand the high population growth. The pressure of this growth contributes greatly to the poverty of the country.
  • Political instability: an unstable government discourages foreigners from investing in the country.
  • War and natural disasters: in its recent history, the country has been ruined by civil war and flooding.
  • Corruption: in the Corruption Perceptions Index, Cambodia was ranked 154th out of 178 countries (where a low ranking means more corruption), with a score of 2.1 out of 10.

22.9 % of the local population lives below the poverty line (with income of less than US$ 0.93 per capita per day). Poverty is still concentrated in the rural areas, while the mountain-zones are experiencing good economic growth.

Rural people lack access to basic infrastructure such as hospitals and schools. Only 78% of adults above the age of 15 are literate.

Building projects

Volunteer for Building Cambodia aims to supply adequate shelter, and basic infrastructure such as wells and toilets.


Volunteers build Khmer-style houses that can last at least 15 years. The houses, four by five meters, have concrete footings, wooden sides and a tin roof. There are two rooms used for daily living and cooking.

A supervisor monitors three capable workers, and to build a house it usually takes four days. On the fifth day a Khmer ceremony is convened to bless the house: after the ceremony, the family moves in.

With the aid of a social worker, who works with community leaders and other NGOs, the project supports the poorest families. The project requires the family to own the land and be free of debt, so that no-one can take their new house away.

Clean water wells

Maybe one of the biggest problems rural Cambodians face is the lack of clean water. They take water for daily use (drinking, cooking, and batheing) from ponds and canals. Often this water is contaminated with bacteria that are extremely dangerous for health.

Being constantly sick because of dirty water prevent adults from working and children from attending school.

When funds allow, the project supports building of a well for those living in village communities. The wells are made from PVC: it's easy to maintain them, and only some cheap parts need to be replaced from time to time.


Lacking access to toilets and clean water is a serious issue that causes health problems and sometimes death.

Only 16% of the population living in the rural areas has access to clean water and toilets.

When funding permits, the team will try to install a toilet: if this is not doable on the family's land, they will ask neighbors for permission to use their land.

An In-Depth Experience of Southeast Asia at an Easy Pace

Volunteer works

The project is suitable for anyone aged 18 years or more. Large groups, families and individuals are all welcome. No building experience is required; an expert will guide you through the whole process.

Usually, volunteers will work from Monday to Friday. The working day starts at 7 and finishes at noon. You are expected to work on all the stages of building: if you don't know how to do something, skillful workers will show you how.

To build a house usually takes up to four days, and costs around $2900.

The project needs volunteers every month of the year. Since they can only build a few houses at a time, it's better to contact the organization to see if any project is available.

For clients who wish to donate and help

Your donation may be extremely important. Even a little money can make the difference.

To build a house costs $2900 – with that money, you can provide a family a good shelter and improve their lives.

With $295, the project will be able to build a toilet improving family hygiene.

$200 will pay for a well: clean water is a basic human right.

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