Kneeling in the vegetable patch outside her new home in the Siem Reap Province, Cambodia, Saloa is busy tending to her crop of beans, pumpkins, and melons. Nearby, her three children are excitedly weaving in and out of the sturdy concrete stilts upon where their new home sits, as they play with their puppy who they’ve named Tony.
Pausing for a moment, Saloa smiles as she watches her children and tells us that she is very happy and that she loves her new home. It’s a joyful family scene, but a stark contrast to the family’s life before.
‘The children were always sick. They’d have diarrhoea, sometimes pneumonia. We slept on a mat on the floor in our old house. When it rained the roof leaked - it flooded everywhere. Water would flow around our house and the wind would blow away our roof made from palm leaves,' says Saloa.
Struggling to Feed The Family
On top of the stresses caused by living in a dilapidated home, along with the threat of floods, and anxiety about their children’s health, Saloa and her husband struggled to feed themselves and their children.
Saloa and her husband were without a decent house to live in, and without enough food to eat. Since the pandemic, their work as labourers has mostly stalled, making it extremely difficult to earn money.
It’s heart-breaking to think of any family struggling to keep their children protected from rain, floods, unsafe drinking water, as well as hunger. But sadly, the family aren’t alone.
In Cambodia, 24% of children under 5 years-old are underweight, and every year over 2,000 Cambodian children die of diarrheal diseases.
Growth in Saloa's Community
In the community where Saloa lives, approximately half of households don’t have access to clean drinking water or a toilet. Salao and other families in the area desperately needed clean drinking water, proper toilets, and crucially a source of food to feed their children.
With families in housing poverty facing multiple daily struggles, it’s crucial that our projects tackle the challenges from all angles – and through our partnership with property management company, Touchstone, we have been working to do just that..
A decent home is more than bricks and mortar – it needs to be a place from where a family and community can grow… As an organisation committed to building communities that are able to thrive, Habitat for Humanity formed a partnership working alongside the Human Resource and Rural Economic Development Organisation in Cambodia. Our combined expertise and resources mean that families like Saloa’s receive essential housing and sanitation support, as well as vital training in agriculture so that they can grow fruit and vegetables to eat.
‘After helping us build our home, we learned how to make compost, prepare soil, and all about caring for the vegetables. We need this food, and now we have different options to cook for our children,’ ‘Without the training, I wouldn’t know how to grow vegetables properly. After applying everything I learnt, I’m seeing such good results - sometimes I have enough vegetables to sell on to other people in the community so that I can make an income,’ says Saloa.
A Foundation To Grow
Millions of people in Cambodia live in extreme poverty, and there is no safety net provided by a social welfare system. Poor families cannot afford decent homes, and the shelter they have is tenuous, often on unsuitable land with no secure tenancy rights.
This is a vulnerable way of life.
Children don’t have the chance to regularly attend school, earning a living is dependent on seasonal farming work, and disease and
illness is an ever present threat in homes without toilets or clean water.
Habitat for Humanity Cambodia works closely with communities to create and build safe houses which give families the foundation to grow food, earn money, and send children to school. Together, with supporters like you, we have enabled 22,000 families to build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter since 2003.
Tat and Khon’s Story
One of the families who have been helped thanks to the generosity of people like you is Tat and Khon, who were supported with a new home through Habitat for Humanity Cambodia after a lifetime of poor housing.
Tat lost part of one leg when he stepped on a landmine during the civil war period…