The poorest of the poor in a community cannot help themselves. Trapped with no assets, no decent livelihood, they are forced to provide labour at very low rates. In rural villages where agriculture is the main source of income, those with no land or land less than one hectare, can only grow rice for their own consumption. Thousands of these poor villagers live in ramshackle houses with leaking roofs and broken walls.
One villager shared how she wrapped herself in plastic whenever it rains and says she is often sick during the rainy season. Poor health leads to medical expenses which she can ill afford. As daily rated labourers, poor health also leads to a reduced income. Her children were shy to show their classmates the ramshackle shack which is their house. It is for these reasons that OHF started a house building program in Cambodia.
Our house building program starts with proper surveys to identify the poorest of the poor. Photos of their current house and details of their income are recorded and submitted for management approval. The house building selection is also approved by the village and commune chiefs. We have a good team of dedicated and honest staff to carry out the project.
Accountability is paramount. Procedures are in place to ensure the right people receive the houses, that no bribes are being paid and that the houses are actually built. Regular audits are also made to ensure the houses are properly constructed.
OHF’s house building program in Prey Veng, Cambodia is very well accepted by the community. The villagers seems pleased we do not use the cheaper zinc materials for the walls and roof. They also told us they like the "cooling" wooden floors and walls.
One grandmother said that with the new houses, her neighbours would come and visit her more and that she is not as lonely as before. Ashamed that their friends would see their decrepit shack, one mother also said that her children stopped skipping school.
OHF house building program has brought joy, hope and self-esteem to hundreds of poor villagers.
We are seeking individual donors and foundations to support our house building program. We offer accountability and confidence that your donations will be properly used. OHF is looking to other community outreach programs that will significantly help the poor Khmer villagers.
OHF has been running toilet and well building programmes in Cambodia for over eight years.
As health is important to those who rely on physical strength to earn money, we also focus on two other areas: water and sanitation. Most villagers depend on wells as piped water is non-existent in many villages in the province of Prey Veng, Cambodia. It is very common that the poor do not have access to a working well. OHF builds wells for poor families to share. Besides using water for drinking and cooking, some families use the water to grow vegetables on their tiny plots.
Many Singapore volunteers were surprised to find that there are no toilets in the villages! The lack of proper sanitation leads to poor health and a lack of human dignity. Imagine the embarrassment for a young woman having to squat behind a bush instead of going to a proper toilet.
Community programs are hard to execute properly. Proper survey have to be done to ensure that help is given to the poorest of the poor. We have to ensure the houses, wells and toilets are properly built. Our preference is to build them with our own staff and should we use contractors, we will put a staff to oversee the construction. Careful procedures must be put in place to prevent staff from claiming cost more than what was actually spent. Whenever possible, materials and supplies are purchased in bulk and stored in our centre. OHF has its own rig, generators and pumps to drill the wells
Photos of the houses, wells or toilets are taken with GPS cameras so that the GPS information is embedded into the photo. This will prevent the same house, well or toilet to be shown several times as different projects! Random audits are also conducted by our staff as well.
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