HFH Cambodia To Serve More Families With Generous Support

Contributions From German, Australian and New Zealand Donors To Help Build Houses, Improve Water And Sanitation Facilities In Different Communities

PHNOM PENH, 3rd July 2009: With the advent of a range of new opportunities, Habitat for Humanity Cambodia is set to serve even more families in need.

Chea Chandy (left), leader of the community of some 20 families who live and work near a dumpsite in Steung Meanchey; the community (right) is called New Life Community in anticipation of the fresh start in their lives.

Stabilized soil blocks (top) were used in the test build (below) which saw Peace Corps volunteers from the U.S. working alongside potential Habitat home partners.

Peder Pedersen, The Charitable Foundation’s director of operations, turned Habitat volunteer during his recent visit to HFH Cambodia’s projects funded by TCF.

Generous support from German and Australian donors has paved the way to a new life for families who live and work near a dumpsite in Steung Meanchey, about 60 km. north of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.

Daimler Financial Services, the global financial services provider of German car manufacturer Daimler, has contributed more than 24,500 euros (US34,010) through HFH Germany toward the relocation of families in Steung Meanchey after the closure of the dumpsite later this year. Another donor, International Children’s Care Australia, a Christian development organization, is providing part of the funds required for the families’ relocation. HFH Cambodia is seeking more funds for the US500,000 three-year project to help the Steung Meanchey families move to their new homes.

Along with the Steung Meanchey community’s move, its leader Chea Chandy has come up with a new name. “Our new community will be known as ‘The New Life Community’ because this is what it will represent to each of us — a new life for our families and the chance to own a house,” he said. “We have come a long way since we first arrived here nine years ago.”

Habitat for Humanity New Zealand’s board has also announced a donation of US36,000 in tithe funds to Cambodia. The donation will help boost the capability of HFH Cambodia to provide safe water and sanitation facilities in housing and community development programs in the capital, Phnom Penh, and in Siem Reap and Battambang in the northwest, over the next three years.

Earlier, ANZ Royal Bank contributed nearly US5,000 to HFH Cambodia to make water and sanitation improvements for families in the resettlement community of Sen Sok, about 20km. west of Phnom Penh. With the contribution, HFH Cambodia can also provide access to water for the poorest families in Angkor Chum district, Siem Reap.

For the community in Steung Meanchey, the Daimler and ICCA donations are heartening news. The 21 families in Steung Meanchey earlier received the donation of a 3,000 square meter plot of land from an Australian couple. Paul and Aileen Munn had met some members from the community during a visit to the dumpsite and were appalled by the living conditions of the families.

Since then, the Munns have worked tirelessly to raise funds for the Steung Meanchey community whom they have come to regard as their family. The Australian couple raised US15,000 to purchase a 3,000 square meter plot of land in Phoum Phnom Bat village, near the base of Oudong mountain in Kandal province. In addition, the Munns donated the US17,000 downpayment for each of the 21 houses and they are currently raising funds to purchase additional land in Oudong that will be used by the community for agriculture.

The Munns’ generosity was recently highlighted in the local Phnom Penh Post newspaper which ran an article about HFH Cambodia’s successful test build at the Oudong site. The site is where families will be building houses with Habitat during the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in November 2009.

The test build involved a team of Peace Corps volunteers from the U.S. and potential Habitat home partners who constructed a house using a new technique with stabilized soil blocks made on site. Building on the technique being introduced for the JRCWP in Cambodia, an organization that asks to remain anonymous is providing HFH Cambodia with 30,000 euros for a 15-house project. In addition to building houses, 20 community members will be trained in the stabilized soil block technology. The 15 houses will be constructed in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang. HFH Cambodia is scheduled to begin producing the stabilized soil blocks over the summer and should be ready to begin house construction at the end of August 2009.

Amid the new projects, HFH Cambodia continues steadfast in its current programs. HFH Cambodia hosted visits from an Australian donor to project sites in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. While in Phnom Penh, Peder Pedersen, The Charitable Foundation’s director of operations, joined Canadian volunteers and Habitat home partners in laying bricks during a build. In Siem Reap, Pedersen and a representative from HFH Australia visited Habitat families, attended a house dedication and checked on water and sanitation facilities. The Charitable Foundation began partnering with HFH Cambodia in 2005, committing more than US1 million to date.

Two specialists, Lars C Lund and Cyprian Selebalo, from the World Bank also visited HFH Cambodia’s project in Battambang, the second-largest city in the country. They reviewed the status and progress of the project and discussed issues on implementation with HFH Cambodia leadership. Financed by the Japan Social Development Fund and backed by the World Bank, HFH Cambodia will work with local communities to help 200 squatter families gain much-needed land rights for their homes.