A Bo’ness building contracts manager joined an international team to build 29 homes in just ten days for shanty town villagers in Cambodia.
Now, back in Scotland, Craig Leishman says the experience has opened his eyes to the scale of third world poverty - and is urging others to get involved.
Craig is East of Scotland contracts chief for CALA Homes, and joined colleagues in a south-east Asia charity stint that raised more than £8,000.
As part of the Big Build project - organised by charity Habitat for Humanity - the volunteers built homes for families living in “informal settlements” in Cambodia’s Battambang Province.
Craig said: “My name was put forward by CALA Homes to take part in the The Big Build project – which was like nothing I had ever experienced before.
“The experience definitely pulled at the heart strings.
“It’s not until you see the conditions in countries like Cambodia that you realise how lucky you are”.
He added: “It was such a culture change. People were living in huts and not wearing shoes.
“Many were living on land that did not belong to them and were being evicted.
“There is a lot more work still needed in Cambodia and CALA Homes is planning to send a larger team of volunteers next year.
“I’m hoping to join in again and make a difference to people’s lives, and would encourage others to take up this wonderful opportunity too.”
Underlining the scale of the poverty, the Cambodian Government has estimated that at least 10 million people lack access to decent housing.
Around 2.8 million people, or nearly one in five of the population, still live in extreme poverty without any social safety net, and an estimated two million houses need critical improvement to meet minimum quality standards.
It’s estimated that an additional 1.1 million houses will be needed by 2030 as a result of a population increase and rural urban migration in Cambodia.