FIRE DEVASTATES CCF COMMUNITY
Fundraising appeal launched as 48 families left homeless after a blaze swept through homes
CCF has launched a fundraising appeal to help families who have been left without homes after a fire destroyed part of the local community.
Families fled their homes with just the clothes on their backs after the blaze broke out Sunday afternoon around 3 pm in the Sambok Chab area of Steung Meanchey, Phnom Penh. Within half an hour the community had burnt to the ground.
80% of the affected families are CCF-supported families with children enrolled in the Education Program.
48 homes were consumed by the blaze. Miraculously, everyone escaped safe and without serious injury. It is still not known what caused the fire, which is believed to have started in one house.
Families have lost their homes, belongings and in some cases businesses. All are poor families who had very little. Now they are left with nothing.
CCF needs to raise funds to build new homes for displaced families. Urgent support is also needed to find temporary accommodation for those affected and provide basic aid, such as food and water.
CCF’s Community Outreach team is on the ground coordinating support and emergency relief, alongside the Cambodian Red Cross, which was handing out food packages and aid to affected families. Around 700 meals are being handed out to families every day.
“This is the biggest fire that we have had in the CCF community. It has had the biggest impact because most of the victim families have children in our programs,” said CCF’s Community Outreach manager, Leanghoin Hoy.
“These families really need our help, many of them have been left with nothing. Some of them have been living in their homes for more than 10 years. Please help the families, they need clothing, food, water and money. We need peoples help, not just in Cambodia but everywhere.”
One of CCF’s community schools has been turned into a night shelter for families to sleep, while others chose to bed down on the ground near where their homes once stood to protect what little they had left.
Khoung Sreng, the Governor of Phnom Penh and Chief Executive of the Municipality, visited the site of the fire on Monday morning to assess the damage and assistance needed, along with representatives from the Ministry of Social Affairs.
“I come here in the name of Cambodia Red Cross and I also spread out Samdach’s words [Prime Ministere Hun Sen] ‘under his rule he never lets people die in hunger’,” said Mr Sreng.
He said that assistance would be offered to anyone in need at commune or local Cambodian People’s Party offices.
Mr Sreng added that all community members needed to play their part in preventing fires and similar tragedies happening again.
Nearby, families affected by the fire were still desperately sifting through the ashes, hoping to recover their belongings or even pieces of scrap metal to sell.
All around were the blackened remains of houses that just the day before were bustling with family life. Now, parents and children were picking through the debris trying to salvage whatever they can from their lives.
Homeowner Maly was in tears as she raked through papers rescued from her house trying to find her son’s birth certificate.
“We have lost everything,” she said. “There is nothing left.”
Behind her was a pile of ashes, all that is left of the wooden shack once home to her, her husband and their three children, two of whom attend CCF schools.
Maly was on her own in the house when she saw the fire out of the window and rushed outside. “It was a big fire and so hot,” she said. “People were screaming and crying. I took what I could from the house and ran.
“We are all ok. My daughter [aged 10] burnt her feet.
“I don’t know what we are going to do now, or where we are going to live. We will need support from CCF.”
Nearby, the Sok family, also stood looking at the smouldering ashes of what once was their home. The children, all students at CCF, escaped from the blaze in just their pyjamas.
Chan Trea, seven months pregnant, is facing the prospect of bringing her third child into the world without a home after their house was ravaged by the blaze.
Some families have lost their livelihoods not just their homes. CCF university student Sothea, 21, told us his family’s shop and home had been destroyed as the fire spread across a path and took hold within minutes.
“All we have left is just the clothes on our backs,” said Sothea. “My mother is already sick and this has been a shock to her.”
Sothea’s father and some friends were going through the fire-damaged building, removing items that could be saved. Most of their belongings had been completely destroyed.
CCF has begun a campaign to raise funds for the families affected.
You can donate by going to https://www.cambodianchildrensfund.org/donate/ Select the ‘Fire Crisis’ campaign to ensure your donations reach these families in need.
Food, clothes, water and mosquito repellant are also needed. Please email [email protected] for info on how to donate these items.
Kate Ginn & Alice Brown/CCF
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