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A micro-finance success story in Asia/Pacific

December 17, 2008

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VIETNAM
—An improved home with the kitchen and toilets rebuilt means a lot to Do Thi Tam. Tam is a widow, and lives with her 16-year-old son Thanh, who works as a laborer. As her house in Ho Chi Minh City was near a canal, the soil under the foundation was badly eroded. The erosion eventually caused her kitchen and bathroom to literally fall into the water, and the walls to crumble.

Tam received a small loan from a non-profit organization called CEP, as well as help from Habitat and Dow Chemical volunteers, without which she could not afford to repair the home that her husband had left to her and her son. The Dow volunteers helped her to save on labor costs by reinforcing the retaining wall, laying a new foundation and floor, and reconstructing the three walls of the house.

As for the Dow volunteers, their morale was boosted by local government officials who showed their support by rolling up their sleeves to help in the construction. Fruits and desserts served by the partner families also ensured that the volunteers were constantly refreshed.

One of the volunteers, Simon Teo, country manager for Dow Vietnam, expressed, “I’m delighted that every one of our employees joined in the build. It is a meaningful activity, as we are supporting a sustainable project and working directly with [those receiving] of our time, effort and sweat.”

After two days of working with the Dow team, Tam feels that, “the volunteer workers and technical support from Habitat have saved us a lot in construction costs that we could not afford. We can work with the help of neighbors and family now that some of the heavy work has been finished. We are grateful.”

Story courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Asia/Pacific

*CEP is a non-profit social organization established in 1991 under the Vietnam government-linked Ho Chi Minh City Labor Confederation. Through the provision of financial products and services, CEP helps the poorest and those who are not reached by the government’s poverty reduction program. As of December 2007, CEP serves over 80,000 clients in Ho Chi Minh City with total assets of US$14.2 million.