Arkun Thom Thom Thomas

Meet Thomas Monneau.

Okay, if you are following our Facebook page you have probably already virtually met Thomas. He spent nine weeks with us and he’s made some great contributions to VBC and the VBC Community Centre over the last few months.

We get volunteers from all walks of life and all corners of the globe and they join us for many different reasons.

Thomas is an engineering student from Nantes, France and he joined us as part of his course requirements. How cool is that?

“I had to do an internship to obtain the diploma and we are free to choose any company or any organisation involved with civil engineering or construction,” Thomas says.

“My first choice was an NGO because there is an occasion to be useful and to discover a way of working.

“I wanted to go in Asia to see the different culture, so I just searched on the internet for NGOs in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.”

Fortunately for us, he found Volunteer Building Cambodia and quickly made contact with us.

Thomas arrived in Cambodia at the end of June and admits he had to get used to the tropical climate and weather, which is quite a contrast from the conditions in France.

But to his credit, he didn’t let the hot days and the high humidity deter him from his work, instead embracing the challenges that arose.
And this internship was more like a job for Thomas. He kept on working with our builders in the afternoons instead of knocking off at lunchtime with our other volunteers.

He also embraced the local food and culture, trying to immerse himself in the life of the villagers while out on build sites.

“It’s another different experience because we cannot really speak with the local people so we have to use the sign, body language, so after four weeks I begin to try to understand the people.”

Thomas loved discovering the Cambodian culture

“What I really like is to discover some food or some places with the locals or go somewhere with Bunthorn.”

Thomas says VBC’s work is well structured with tasks for volunteers to get involved with in the mornings and separate work for the builders and the local people in the afternoons.

“I found the process very optimised. Sinn made it very simple for volunteers.”

He says Sinn and our builders – Buntheun, Det and Bunthorn – make all the different elements that need to be done very easy but at the same time fulfilling. The volunteers are still playing a useful role and are physically contributing to the construction of the house.

He is also impressed with the design of the house, which he says has all the main elements required with big windows and concrete pillars and is well adapted to living conditions in Cambodia.

“I think the NGO is very flexible. It can take someone for two months like me and sometimes people who want to do tourist (activities) can do just a short time.”

Thomas was working on an information booklet for volunteers to use and better understand VBC’s building process and what is expected of them.

As well as having a big input on house builds he also helped out at our warehouse, built toilets and helped with various activities at VBCCC, including library shelving and this great direction post.

Thanks so much for your fantastic contribution Thomas. We’ve loved having you here. And we are so pleased this has been a successful two-way exchange, helping each other to fulfil goals.

Come back again soon!