Last week I was in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, attending a Habitat for Humanity International meeting, celebrating the 35th year of Habitat's involvement in Asia-Pacific. It all started out with the first house built in Khammam, India in 1983. Now, Habitat operates in more than 20 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, serving 4.8 million people in this year alone (a new record).
Members of the International Board of Directors of Habitat International were invited to this meeting, and as part of the programme (and also a Habitat tradition), we all descended to Oudong town in Kampong Speu province, about 50 km south of Phnom Penh to build 4 houses. Two were brick houses and two were wooden-bamboo houses on stilts. I was assigned to work on hammering bamboo strips for the flooring. Almost lost a thumb on that one... The flooring should be very strong because I hammered in a lot more nails than I should (because I kept messing up).
I took the opportunity to bring my newly-elected Chairman Foo Chai Yee to visit 2 of the houses we are building in the Grace Project. This is part of a multi-year project in Cambodia benefiting thousands of people (many of whom are HIV-positive and disabled from landmine explosion), thanks to the generosity of Mr. Philip Ng of Far East Organization.
Even though I have done this sort of thing for many years by now, it never fail to move me every time I get to meet the beneficiaries that all of us, staff and volunteers alike, have worked so hard to help. It is not something that can be adequately described in words; to see people getting a new lease of life, children running around with laughter, parents brimming with pride that they now have a decent place to call home.
And to meet my fellow Habitat staff and volunteers, literally from all over the world gathering together in one place to demonstrate the love and teaching of Jesus Christ is another thing altogether. It is not just about learning from one another (although there were indeed lots to learn), it is realizing that God has put so many different people from different backgrounds and nationalities together so that we can work at changing the world. And I am one of these people.
I was walking on the road, soaking in the wide open space (which is something we cannot find in Singapore) amidst all the noises and sounds of people hammering, sawing, digging, yelling, laughing all around me; when I looked up towards my Big Boss in heaven and said, "Thank you for the privilege."
And a privilege it is. Prayerfully, I will get to do this for many more years to come. Come join us, and let's all share this privilege and joy together.
At Habitat, we believe that everyone deserves to have a decent place to live.
As we enter the season of giving, we hope you consider helping us impact more lives in 2019 by supporting our year-end #HomeThisChristmas campaign.