During our time in Siem Reap, our group had the opportunity to work on JWOC’s recently acquired property which will be the future site for their community center. The center is located next door to the Journey’s BandB. When we arrived, the house (which is being transformed into a community center) and the land were in pretty bad shape because the property has been vacant for a while. One of the biggest problems with the house was the worn paint on the walls. Over the span of a couple of days, our group worked with JWOC scholarship students sanding the walls of the entire building and also applying primer to the walls. After the primer dried, we were able to paint three of the rooms in the building which resulted in a noticeable aesthetic difference. Other minor tasks included clearing cobwebs from the house, cleaning the ventilation, and weeding the yard (which afforded us the opportunity to see a variety of critters that live in the Cambodian soil). Even though we won’t have the opportunity to see the project through to completion, we feel that the work we put into the property moved it closer to being ready for use. It was also quite enjoyable to work side by side with the scholarship students, learning bits of the Khmer language, and joking throughout the day.

Jesse and Melissa explained to us that the community center will serve a number of purposes. The center will provide an office for the micro-finance project, serve as a place for community members to gather, provide housing for volunteers, and will also be home to a café which will give locals vocational training. The center will allow JWOC to increase its capability to work with impoverished individuals from Siem Reap. By providing educational opportunities and offering credit to the poor, JWOC is fighting poverty with a holistic approach. Assisting with the renovations of the community center allowed us to participate in this fight, even if it was only in a small way.