World Housing: The world’s first one-for-one real estate gifting model.
In the past 18 months, more than 360 homes have been built for deserving families with children studying at CCF, through our partnership with World Housing. In fact, there’s a whole factory for producing these homes, and we won’t be slowing down. We are now extending our home building reach, to provide homes for deserving families right across Cambodia.
It’s not just homes we are building – rather we are building whole villages. Small communities with edible gardens, social areas, playgrounds, clean water, toilet blocks, safety and security. The homes are built for deserving families that have made a commitment to prioritising their children’s education, providing a safe environment for their children to grow up in, free from drugs, alcohol and abuse, and keeping their children out of the workforce.
When families helped by the Cambodian Children’s Fund receive a new home, it’s a life-changing experience. Most of these families have dealt with years of poverty, unsafe housing and constant struggles. These well-built homes are safe and comfortable, with access to a bathroom. For many of the benefitting families, this is the first time they’ve lived in such a place. “Truthfully, people say they never thought they could live in a home like this,” said Alan, the construction manager for the World Housing in Cambodia.
A portable model.
All of this comes together in the factory around the corner from CCF’s headquarters in the Steung Meanchey area of Phnom Penh. For our experienced team of builders, a new home takes two and a half days of work. Galvanized steel, hand-made window shutters and other supplies are all locally sourced within the community and the supplies take up about a third of the factory. Once the supplies are in, the next step is to cut the materials to the exact length needed for the home. Once cut, the pieces are fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle through welding and drilling.
Construction isn’t complete just yet, as the pieces are brought on to the land – either owned or rented by CCF – and then finished by a second team that has already cleaned up the land and laid down cement to go under the house. The traditional Khmer houses that can be seen throughout the countryside inspired the home designs. These stilt homes are elevated, with a ladder leading to the room. Underneath, the home is a comfortable area to relax in the shade and cook food.
The impact a completed home has on a family is incredible. At the gifting ceremonies we have, the recipient families are in awe of the new homes. Some of them were living with more than a dozen people in a small room. Others lived in an unsafe place with unsanitary conditions yet still struggled to make rent. Now, thanks to the team of builders, they have the peace of mind that they deserve.
Who gets a home?
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.
Skin in the game.
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.
World Housing Cambodia Facebook page
World Housing Facebook page
World Housing Website
Read the Khmer Times article here.
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