This International Women’s Day we are celebrating the strong, inspirational women we work with including Sochea who is making a big impact in her community in Cambodia.
For many years, Sochea and her family lived in an informal settlement along a riverside in Cambodia. Their home was makeshift, cobbled together with whatever materials they could find and without access to water and sanitation.
Although they were living in extremely poor conditions, Sochea and families like hers were actually paying a large portion of their meagre income from working in the garment factories in rent to illegal landlords. As the settlement was informal and thus not recognised by the government, they did not have access to public utilities and were also charged expensive, private rates for electricity and water. Sochea however had no where else to go, and with an unsteady income, she struggled to even afford the rent charged by the slum lords.
Sadly, Sochea’s story is not uncommon.
Worldwide, slum populations are growing. In fact, by 2030 it is estimated that 1 in 4 people globally will live in a slum.
Slums, a growing problem.
But with access to safe and decent housing, families have the opportunity to be healthier, happier and more secure.
That’s why Habitat’s work focuses on housing as a key component of poverty alleviation.
A few years ago, the government forcibly evicted Sochea’s and other families in the slum. They were relocated to an area on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Here, with your support we were able to help build the family a new home through the Building Hope, Building Positive Lives project.
The location is home to many Habitat families including those who are elderly, disabled and living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. Many of these families have now lived in the area for a number of years and with the help of livelihood training from Habitat have been able to start thriving home enterprises and earn a steady income in areas of cricket farming and chicken rearing.
Sochea in front of her new home.
Sochea’s story is a bit different. After Sochea built a traditional high set home with Habitat she set about converting the downstairs area into a day care and early learning centre. She was determined to create a space where all children in the community could thrive, learn, grow and have a better future. She now teaches, reading, writing and math to around 25 children from Monday to Saturday.
The parents of Sochea’s students work in the nearby factories. Others are orphaned and vulnerable who live with their grandparents. The school helps the local children get a head start in their education and keeps them productively occupied in a safe environment while their parents or guardians are at work.
Sochea also earns an income from making and selling soy milk which she learn as part of Habitat’s livelihood training program.
At Habitat, we believe a safe and decent home is a stabilising force for a family. Better, affordable living conditions lead to improved health, stronger childhood development and the ability — and financial flexibility — to make forward-looking choices.
Sochea has taken a pay it forward approach and has welcomed others into her home and supporting the future generations so they can thrive and grow.
Sochea’s early learning centre.
For Sochea, a safe home hasn’t just provided a solid foundation for her family, but the entire community.
Build a better tomorrow, today. Please donate to help more families like Sochea’s access safe and decent housing.