World Housing and CCF: We don’t just build homes, we build communities.
November 17, 2015
Following a great article in the Khmer Times last week, we’ve received an enormous amount of interest in the work we are doing to provide homes and building communities in the poorest areas of Cambodia. You can read the article here: Homeward Bound: Rescuing City’s Trash Scavengers from the Cycle of Poverty
When it comes to providing housing, there is only one organisation we work with: Canadian based non-profit World Housing. World Housing is a truly incredible organisation, and the CCF and World Housing partnership has seen 360 homes built, and more than 1,800 people housed in 24 different communities in the last 18 months.
The success of the World Housing model on the ground is due in a large part to the way CCF has been able to apply what we have learnt working at the community level in Cambodia for over a decade.
CCF provides extensive support to families in the Steung Meanchey area and beyond. Rice, clean water and medical care for families of CCF students form the first tier of this support, ensuring that families are not negatively impacted when their children attend school. Receiving a World Housing home is the top-tier of that support, and is provided as a reward to the most deserving families.
The houses are the larger incentive for parents to ensure their children’s safety and education. Families that encourage their children’s education, provide a safe home life and encourage good behaviour are the first to be offered a home.
New homeowners sign a simple three-point agreement – they will encourage their kids to go to school, they will keep the home free from abuse (drug and alcohol abuse, physical abuse etc), and will not allow their children to undertake paid labour. This is not an effort to impose external values (there is no ban on alcohol), it is simply to create a safe environment for children.
Families are overjoyed when moving into their new homes. For the first time they have a home that is safe and secure, and built up on stilts out of reach of the seasonal monsoonal rains and flooding.
Moving into a World Housing community brings with it many “firsts” for many families – the first time they have a home to call their own, the first time they can close their front door, the first they have had access to a toilet, the first time the children have access to a playground and the first time the parents have access to an communal edible garden. Thanks to the enthusiasm and diligence of World Housing Cambodia manager Alan Crellin and his team of local builders, the quality of the homes are exceptional.
As most charities know, if you give something away for free it can be perceived by the recipient as having no value. It’s something that we have learnt over the past decade working on the ground in Cambodia. We want people to have ‘skin in the game’, to take pride in their homes and communities. Recipients of World Housing homes pay a $15 per month contribution towards the cost of maintenance and upkeep of their community. This contributes towards land rental, maintenance of communal spaces, toilets, gardens etc. It’s roughly one-third the price to rent a substandard shack in the surrounding area.
By encouraging people to have ‘skin in the game’, we see dramatically different outcomes than if we simply give something away. We are helping people out of horrific living conditions, but we don’t want to breed dependency or a welfare mentality, and we don’t want to completely remove them from the real-world economy. And if people can’t afford to pay, then they don’t pay.
If families are able to leave Phnom Penh and move back to the countryside, CCF will always support them to do this. Provided that families honour their contracts to keep their children in school, safe and out of work, we will work to provide them with a house in the province to move into.
With World Housing we are providing much more than a home. We are building safe communities that value education and Khmer values as much as we do.
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