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Family Receives House With Secure Tenure Under Pilot Partnership Between Elton John AIDS Foundation and HFH Cambodia

March 4th, 2011

Builders From EJAF, Grey Goose And British Singer Lulu Build With Home Partner

 

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(Above) Volunteers from the Elton John AIDS Foundation with HFH Cambodia’s staff and skilled workers completed a new home which also marked secure tenure for Ms Pang’s family.
(Below) Habitat home partner Ms Pang (left) rejoicing with British singer, actress and celebrity Lulu. Photos: Mikel Flamm.

PHNOM PENH, 4th March 2011: Habitat for Humanity Cambodia recently celebrated the completion of a special house for home partner Ms Pang and her four children, providing them with a new life in a rural community north of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

Life has been hard for forty-six-year-old Ms Pang. Five years ago, she was diagnosed with HIV and shortly after, two of her three sons were diagnosed also with the disease. She had another blow when her husband left the family.

For more than 12 years, the family has lived in a wooden house built over a polluted pond which leaked in the rainy season.

Now the Pang family has a new home thanks to Habitat and supporters: Elton John AIDS Foundation and HFH Great Britain.

The Pangs’ house was one of the first homes to be built with support of the EJAF, the philanthropic arm of Sir Elton John.

The pilot partnership between EJAF and HFH Cambodia will see 120 new houses being built and another 200 homes renovated or repaired for orphans and vulnerable children and those living with HIV/AIDS.

EJAF trustees and staff, all first-time Habitat volunteers, worked alongside Ms Pang to complete the house in Trapeangangchagn community. British singer, actress and TV celebrity Lulu also joined in to lend support.

EJAF is providing a US$900,000 grant through HFH Great Britain which played a key role in securing the partnership. Habitat for Humanity International and HFH Great Britain will provide the remaining funds for the US$1.2 million project.

The emotion was shared by Ms Pang and her 13-year-old son Kon Peakadey who watched the last sheets of roofing materials being nailed to the roof beams while the volunteers were laying the kitchen table top.

She smiled at the thought of owning a new, safe and decent house with running water and a toilet. At her new Habitat home, Ms Pang will have access to affordable state utilities.

Life is a constant struggle for her family who lives hand to mouth. Ms Pang earns just over 5,000 riel a day (US$1.20) from making small cloth mats and selling fried bananas in the local market.

On the final day, Lulu and the British ambassador to Cambodia, Andrew Mace, joined the team and Ms Pang to celebrate the completion of the house.

Lulu hugged Ms Pang as they looked at her new house. Earlier, they worked together to lay bricks on a wall.

The British singer said: “This is an incredible journey for this family. This is not just about giving them a home. It is about encouraging them, educating them and finding work for the women to make them self-sufficient.

“It was so sweet to see her working on her house, laying bricks, carrying cement as she helped the volunteers to build her house.

“This has been a very humbling experience for me to be part of this build,” Lulu added.

Ms Pang said: “I have lived in a very difficult situation so I am very happy to move into this lovely house with my family. I am so excited about this house and wish to thank all the volunteers who came here. There is nothing that can compare to what I am feeling right now.”

 

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EJAF’s Mike Kostyn (front, left) and Chris Boge (right) lifting up a roofing sheet. Upon his return to the UK, Kostyn aimed to inspire others with what he learned in Cambodia.

 

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Lulu (left), with Habitat home partner Ms Pang, said the build was a humbling experience for her.

Working alongside the Habitat home partner was an eye-opener for the EJAF team.

“I’ve seen photos of the old dumpsite but nothing prepares you for the reality of being there. Only when you can experience the smells and meet the families who live in extreme poverty can you understand the hardships of the people who live there.” said Glenn Horder, an EJAF fundraiser.

“As a fund raiser I can better understand where the funds we raise will go.”

“It was much harder than we all thought,” said team leader Mohamed Osman, EJAF’s head of grants.

“The first day of the build we achieved our goal of laying seven rows of bricks but the second day we struggled a bit. We are not used to the heat and humid weather compared to the cold in the UK.”

EJAF finance chief Mike Kostyn added: “When we return home to the UK, we can inspire others with what we have learned here.”

“Through all the hard work and sweat over the week we feel great knowing that we have helped to change the life of this family and this is a great feeling,” added Paul McDonnell, marketing manager of Grey Goose, UK, a major event sponsor for EJAF.

The EJAF-Habitat collaboration will address more than housing issues. It will also link the families in need of assistance to social and medical support. To implement the program, HFH Cambodia is partnering with other NGOs currently running successful programs for orphans and vulnerable children and people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. These are Save the Children Australia and three local NGOs, Khemara, Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope and Sharing Experiences for Adapted Development (SEAD).

“EJAF has provided many thousands of families living with HIV/AIDS with access to medication, education, counseling and means of earning an income,” commented Anne Aslett, executive director of the foundation.

“Shelter was a relatively new area for us. What is exciting about our collaboration with Habitat for Humanity is the leverage of additional support through the program partners, such as Khemara that provides food and access to treatment for Mrs Pang and her family.”

 

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The EJAF-Habitat collaboration will also link families in need of assistance to social and medical support.

Under the partnership with EJAF, HFH Cambodia has already completed five houses with another six under construction in Phnom Penh. Future construction is expected to take place in Russeykeo district, Phnom Penh and in Prey Veng province.

EJAF is an international non-profit organization funding programs that help to alleviate the physical, emotional and financial hardships of those living with, affected by or at risk of HIV/AIDS.

Sir Elton John established the Elton John AIDS Foundation in the UK in 1993 to support innovative HIV prevention programs, efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS, and direct care and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS. Since its inception, EJAF has raised over US$220 million. The UK office has funded over 800 programs across Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe, making it one of the largest HIV grantmaking charities in the world.

Habitat for Humanity has been operating in Cambodia as a branch office since January 2003. HFH Cambodia’s housing and community development programs in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Prey Veng and Kandal aim to reduce poverty.

To date, HFH Cambodia has served nearly 1,400 families with decent and affordable housing and access to adequate water and sanitation facilities.