Reflections on Home

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Reflections on Home

Missed our photography exhibition, Home? Don’t worry. You can still discover the stories behind the photos featured in our exhibition online.

Home was Habitat’s free photo exhibition hosted at Sydney’s Custom House in 2016. Home aimed to raise awareness of the need for safe and decent housing around the world by showcasing the impact a secure housing offers.

Be inspired and get to know the people behind the photos, and see the incredible difference access to housing makes across all areas of life, from security to health to livelihood opportunities. It’s so much more than bricks and mortar – a home provides real hope for the future. Discover some of the life changing stories behind our photographs below…

Veasna’s dream

Veasna is the eldest of four children. His parents used to earn an income from collecting lotus roots and as fisherman. Together, the two of them would just earn enough money to feed Veasna and his siblings. They did not have enough to send them to school and certainly not enough to build them a better home than the slum they lived in made from old wood and palm leaves.

When Veasna’s mother found out Habitat for Humanity would help the family build a new home she was thrilled. It was a huge relief knowing that her children would finally have a safe place to live.

After his family moved into their new Habitat home in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Veasna’s parents started their own business selling steamed corn and cane juice. With livelihood training from Habitat, they also began raising chickens to supplement their income. For this family, a home means more than a place to live. It has also been empowered them and provided a foundation from a thriving home-based enterprise.

With this financial stability, Veasna has been able to spend time drawing, one of his favourite hobbies, and playing football with his new friends in the neighbourhood. Veasna has a light to study by and dreams becoming a doctor when he grows up.

“Nothing compares to the new house,” said Veasna’s mother. “It’s the best thing we could ask for.”

Veasna and his family in their former home.

Veasna and his family in their former home.


Veasna, his mother and siblings enjoying their new home.

Veasna, his mother and siblings enjoying their new home.


Veasna's sisters Saroy, 12  and Sok Arng, 7. Saroy wants to be a doctor and Sok Arng, a pilot when they grow up.

Veasna’s sisters Saroy, 12 and Sok Arng, 7. Saroy wants to be a doctor and Sok Arng, a pilot when they grow up.

Nazma’s kitchen

Nazma, 48, lives with her son in one of Dhaka’s many urban slums. They share one room which has two small windows, where they sleep, cook and live. The walls were derelict and during the rains Nazma would often have to cope with flooded floors. It was humble, but it was home.

As part of Habitat for Humanity’s Building Resilience in Urban Slum Settlements program, 36 families in the community, including Nazma’s were identified as those with the greatest need and were impacted through major renovations to address the water logging and flooding.

Working with Nazma, Habitat has raised the house foundations, provided cement flooring and replaced the walls with solid brick. Better flooring and ventilation reduces risk of disease and it is easier to keep clean. Nazma can now enjoy cooking in a clean, dry and well ventilated space.

In the wider community, families like Nazma’s also benefited from a new drainage system which also reduces water logging and flooding risk and the contributes to improved health. A new walkway has been constructed as has community toilets and a water reservoir.

Habitat has since completed work in Nazma’s community and have worked in another two slums nearby undertaking similar upgrade and renovation work.

Nazma sits proudly in her kitchen with its new cement floor.

Nazma sits proudly in her kitchen with its new cement floor.


“Everything has Become Beautiful”

Chen is a farmer who lives in the Angkor Chum district of Cambodia with his wife Som Pohn and their 18-year-old daughter. In his younger years, Chen was a solider and lost his right leg to a landmine blast.

Several years ago, Chen went blind in one eye due to pieces of landmine shrapnel that had been lodged there for years and, in his belief, pesticides in their water supply.

Despite these difficult circumstances, Chen has retained a positive outlook. To combat the community’s water issues he set about digging a well. Chen’s hand-dug well was a great success, providing water for his family, friends and relatives. However, after a few months, due to heavy usage, the well eventually collapsed.

Habitat for Humanity project staff found the well that Chen had built and offered to support him in erecting a new cement well. He was provided with materials and technical support while the community members also provided labour.

The new well and irrigation system built by Chen has changed the lives of everyone around him. Health has improved throughout the community and farming is now possible all year round.

“Since the day I got this well everything has become beautiful,” said Chen. “Since we’ve got this clean water and this toilet we don’t usually get sick like other neighbours. That’s why my family is healthy, the well has changed our life.”

Chen in his home

Chen in his home


Chen cooks vegetables from his garden using clean water from the well.

Chen cooks vegetables from his garden using clean water from the well.


Chen collecting water.

Chen collecting water.


Find out more

Read more stories on the impact safe and decent housing has had on the families we work with.

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