Probably taking the award for “oldest ongoing project”, some of the Camp Cambodia Gap Year Volunteers have been re-building a Dam near Camp Beng Mealea that has been in a constant state of ongoing repair for over 1000 years! OK, so we haven’t been working on the dam ourselves for that long, (although rumours that Country Manager, Bunlay, has been can only be substantiated by cutting him in half and counting the rings), but it is true that the dam we’ve been repairing is part of the ancient system of water works that once fed the temples and cities in Northern Cambodia inlcuding the Magnificent Angkor Wat and ancient capital of Angkor Thom. Even today these dams and canals still provide water for families and farms in outlying villages that would otherwise struggle to during the intense dry season and be flooded during the wet season. It was during one of these wet periods that the dam we are working on was damaged in a particularly bad storm 2 years ago leaving some 5åÊsmall villages with extremely limited supplies of water. When the community asked if we would be able to help, we jumped at the opportunity. It’s not everyday you get to rebuild parts of aåÊstructure firståÊput in place by an ancient civilisation.

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As the gappers worked through the heat repairing numerous holes in the dam’s walls, they were joined most days by some of the children from the local villages that would benefit from the work who, despite being knee high to a grasshopper, still held their own in the carrying heavy loads department. Much to the amusement of our gappers.

With he first stage of plugging the holes with sandbags and mud now complete, the new walls will next be sealed with concrete in preparation for the coming wet season which will re-fill this dam in no time. The work or reparing the dams in the area, much like painting the Forth Bridge, is never ending, though not normally this extensive, but through a bit of team work between our volunteers and the children of the community, hopefully this dam will survive a few more rainy seasons and perhaps last another 1000 years.

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