Photo of Support Worker - Ron Weir

Support Worker – Ron

For the past five years, Support Worker Ron has been taking a holiday with a difference in Cambodia.  A friend introduced Ron to International Children’s Care (ICC) – a charity which enables people from all over the world to sponsor children in need.  In addition to child sponsorship, ICC gives people the opportunity to use their skills and experience to help people in practical ways.

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A builder by trade, Ron was attracted to the idea of helping out with the many building projects the charity is involved in. Ron makes an annual pilgrimage to the village of Kampong Timor to support building projects for the Light of Hope orphanage as well as building homes for local people. He is also involved in the construction of a home for women with HIV and their children, which gives them a safe place to live while they learn key life skills and produce products for the Australian market.

Ron and other volunteers, including Year 12 students from Great Southern Grammar, pay their own air-fares, accommodation and food and also contribute to the costs of building materials. This works out at about $2,500 each, but it’s not all hard work! The team usually fly into Phnom Penh and spend a few days in a hotel while taking in the sights around the city. At this point Australian teams can meet with volunteers from other countries – most recently Ron worked closely with people from Germany and the Eastern States.

After a few days of rest and teambuilding, the teams head off to Kampong Timor where the Light of Hope orphanage is situated. “It is very small place in the middle of nowhere”, said Ron, “and it’s not unusual to see ox and carts sharing the road with cars and other motor vehicles.”

Ron usually arrives before the teams because as supervisor, there is much preparation work to be done for the building projects. Materials and tools need to be bought in advance and Ron works closely with an interpreter to get what is needed from local suppliers. Houses are built in the traditional Cambodian style – approximately 4 metres square on stilts. Project teams can also be asked to install windows and shutters into existing houses, replace ceilings, fix septic tanks or other renovation projects.
Last year, Ron supervised a group of Year 12’s from Great Southern Grammar who built a home for a local family. Ron enjoys teaching the youngsters but insists that he encourages them to learn on the job. Ron said “I try not to do anything for them – they need to learn. Sometimes it takes a while, but we always get there in the end.”

This year, Ron will be a leading a team of Albany locals to renovate a cottage which is currently part of the Light of Hope orphanage. Ron encourages people to think about getting involved, either by sponsoring a child or joining him on a working holiday to the region.