Monday, November 14, 2011

Habitat OC meets Cambodia

Adelle Yeaton (a Habitat OC supporter) and I have traveled from Orange County, California to Cambodia to build 22 Habitat homes. We arrived in Cambodia on Sunday and were greeted by the Habitat Cambodia team. Once we got settled at the Hotel Cambodiana, we went for a walk along the promenade which parallels the Mekong River (which we can see from out hotel window.) Phnom Pehn is such an interesting city – it looks very European with wide boulevards and traffic circles. Grand palaces and incredible poverty sit side by side.

Today we started building 22 homes for families who used to live on a huge dumpsite. There have been significant changes each family has had to undertake since part of the process for becoming a Habitat homeowner in this program required the families to move from the dump site to a cleaner, safer location. This was especially difficult for the families since their former way of making a living was scavenging. Due to the change in location, the families were taught new skills: raising crops and animals. This is an ongoing transition as they are not only changing where they live but how they live. While the homes are built, the families have been building their new skills necessary to successful raise crops and animals and living in temporary facilities.

Before we began building today, we took a tour of the dumpsite and found the sheer scope of it hard to comprehend. There are over a thousand families living as scavengers in the dump area. Children run barefoot and many are naked as they climb over mounds of trash. Women spend the day separating plastic bags which are gathered, bagged and shipped to China where they are recycled. We’re happy to be in Cambodia helping build the homes of 22 families that will no longer have to call the dumpsite home. We hope to be able to do the same for all of the families that are still living there.

Stay tuned to keep reading about our time in Cambodia!

Executive Director
Habitat for Humanity of Orange County

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