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Renewed hope for Hem Kim in Cambodia

Hem Kim would worry day and night about her family’s living condition, her children’s education, and how they would pay the rent. With a new home from Habitat for Humanity, a great burden has been lifted from Hem Kim’s shoulders and she is able to focus on her family’s future.

Hem Kim, her husband Orn Then and four children live in Cambodia. Both Hem Kim and Orn are HIV positive. Orn Then works as a motor taxi driver and Hem Kim, as a vendor at a market in Phnom Penh. Living in an insecure rental house, Hem Kim and Orn Then constantly worried about their families living situation. Hem Kim and Orn Then would work long, hard hours to pay the rent and keep a roof over their family’s heads and send their children to school, but as Hem Kim’s health worsened this became increasingly difficult.

After thorough assessments done by Habitat for Humanity Cambodia, the family was granted a new home in Kandal province just outside Phnom Penh. Now, over a year since their home was built, Hem Kim happily welcomed us into her house saying, “I am proud to share with you the changes in our lives since we moved here.”

“This time last year I was overwhelmed with work trying to sell all I could and doing as much as possible so that I would have enough money to pay for food, the rent and other expenses,” says Hem Kim. “We did not have enough food to eat because our family needs to save for house rental and utilities. But now life is completely different. We can already afford proper food and our health is getting better as well. I also don’t worry about paying monthly rent anymore.”

Hem Kim continues to work as a market vendor in her new village and her husband still works as motor taxi driver. However, with their own home and more space they have started a vegetable garden and also raise cows, ducks and chickens to supplement their income.

“At first when we started to live here, we just had 23 chickens and 8 ducks and now we have 2 cows, around 40-45 chickens and 11 ducks. There are a lot vendors coming here to purchase products we have in our village.”

Hem Kim and Orn Then hope to expand their home business and increase their number of cows so they can generate more income and ensure they can keep supporting their children at school.

“I want my children to continue to university because then they can find good job with good pay or can work in an organisation to help the poor, like Habitat for Humanity,” says Hem Kim. “I am excited for the future. I am pleasantly surprised as to what we have done so far, and we aim to grow our business. Even though we are a bit old, my husband and I want to learn more and do more now we have broken through the barriers and worries we faced for so long.”

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