Over 500 Volunteers Support World Habitat Day Events in Cambodia

Guided by Habitat for Humanity’s global theme for World Habitat Day 2012, “Many Homes, One Community,” this year, Habitat for Humanity Cambodia launched a program called “Clean Homes, Healthy Communities,” which highlights the vital role that decent, affordable housing plays in community stabilization and development by demonstrating the importance of having resilient houses, personal hygiene and cleanliness within homes and communities.

HFH Cambodia had an early start with its World Habitat line of activities on September 29 in one of its project sites in Battambang where more than 100 volunteers comprised of local government officials, NGO partners, community people and students contributed their time to help in moving the project beneficiary houses to their formally allocated landplots, with house repairs and in conducting a community-wide clean-up. Two project beneficiaries receiving land certificates for their formally allocated Social Land Concession plots were Van Thong and Vorn Cheam. 50 students from Sovanna Phum Primary school also joined in cleaning up the community in Chamka Russey district. The young students enjoyed their community service experience and the school expressed their commitment to participate in other Habitat Cambodia events. Their presence made the WHD event more inspiring and helped Habitat Cambodia engage most of the adult volunteers.

The other over 400 inspired fellow Cambodian youth volunteers gathered together in Anlong Kong village, Phnom Penh on October 6 to assist 45 families with house repairs, home cleaning and education.

The volunteers also conducted a community clean-up drive and held Hygiene and Sanitation promotion amongst the community children, ultimately demonstrating to other villages the importance of personal hygiene, keeping their homes resilient and clean and their communities clean. The activity was supported by ANZ Royal Bank, SC Johnson, FUSAAC – Fulbright and Undergraduate State Alumni Association of Cambodia, PASS – Pannasastra Student Senate, RUPP’s Social Work Department and Sociology, Earth People One and many professionals and university student volunteers. The event was also supported by local and municipal government and media partners who all helped us in promoting the importance of volunteerism in reaching more Cambodian families and helping and leading them towards attaining better living conditions and adequate shelter.

A youthful energy filled the village at the strike of 8:00am; volunteers joined the families in front of the community center, guests from the Phnom Penh municipal and the local government also joined the event. After the spirited introduction, the volunteers proceeded to their respective groups – some were with the house repair group, some with the house cleaning group, some were with the community cleaning group and some assisted in the Hygiene Promotion and Hand Washing event. Chout Kiriadarasy or Darasy, oneamong the other active youth, and the team leader of students from Pannasastra University shared, “This is a great chance for me to really get involved in giving back to our community. I am very help to help and be able to see other fellow youths willingly supporting the community. This event reminded us about the importance of housing and how living into an adequate one or at least be led to living into one, makes such a big difference! Each one of us wish to live in a comfortable and safe home, just like our fellow Cambodians here in Anlong Korn and many villages with low income families, they also want live in a good place with a clean environment. Today, I was assigned with the house cleaning group. Through this simple work, I can understand more and get to see first-hand, the need of my people.”

Another young volunteer, named Sayo, who actively recruited fellow Japanese who are based in Cambodia was assigned in the house repair group, Sayo Oguchi, was very focused on her task making sure that their team’s goal can be accomplished on schedule. Besides the build work, the Japanese volunteer also became a part of the hygiene and sanitation event, which raised hygiene awareness amongst the children in the village. “I’m so proud to be a part of this event. I did not only have a chance to work on the house, but I had the opportunity to work with the kids in the village. They are so adorable and their beautiful smile encouragesme to be part of more of this!” Sayo said.

The success of the event was affirmed by the rain that poured in just at the nick of completing the repairs and the clean-up. It was indeed an event worth celebrating and closing with a fun, long rain dance shared by Habitat staff and the volunteers. Then again, the rain dance deeply reminded everyone of the feeling of fellow Cambodians being under the rain and not having a proper shelter or a place to call home.

With their youthful energy they all proclaimed that time was not enough and they want to do more. Given the chance to get to know different people who have the same growing passion to serve their community through volunteerism, the newly formed network from the WHD event in Phnom Penh paved the way for the youth and the professionals to commit to come together and plan for the next volunteer opportunities they will help create alongside Habitat Cambodia and become constant part of the solution to poverty housing.

These activities were supported by local media, with Habitat for Humanity representative gave an interview live on CNC, the leading news channel in under CTN Cambodia, talking about the significance of WHD and Habitat for Humanity’s local WHD activities. The next World Habitat Day activity will take place in Siem Reap on October 28, where a number of students from various universities will also join villagers and local authorities in Siem Reap will hold “Clean Homes, Healthy Communities” program.

The World Habitat Day 2012 line of activities this October and November are Habitat for Humanity Cambodia’s contribution to raising awareness on the need for adequate housing and developing sustainable communities. Habitat Cambodia has received more and more commitments from students, professionals and partners from the private sector about their support for holding more volunteer events intended to help reach out to more fellow Cambodians.

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