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Australian charity helps launch Habitat for Humanity in Cambodia

Australian charity to help Habitat for Humanity build its first homes project in Cambodia

SYDNEY, Australia, and PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, March 22, 2004 – An Australian charitable foundation agreed to fund most of a (U.S.) $582,000 Habitat for Humanity International project to help build safe and decent homes for hundreds of low-income families in Cambodia. It is Habitat’s first project in Cambodia since beginning its work there in January 2003.

According to the Australian arm of Habitat for Humanity International, the charity, which wishes to remain anonymous, will contribute more than (U.S.) $400,000 to help 264 families build new homes in Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh. The families, all Kampuchea Krom who fled Vietnam, had saved enough money to buy land; however, they need help to build homes where they can safely raise their families. The project begins on April 1 and will take four years to complete.

“We are delighted to have such a generous supporter to help us help some of the poorest families in one of the poorest nations in Asia,” said Michael Pailthorpe, director of Habitat for Humanity Australia. “The foundation’s funding helps Habitat’s work in Cambodia to get off to a flying start, just one year after starting in the country.”

The project will use Habitat’s “Save & Build” model, which brings together low-income families in a community to form savings groups. The groups, usually 10 to 12 families strong, save money and materials together. When the group saves enough to build one house, Habitat normally provides matching loans to build two more, and construction on the three houses begins. In this project, the foundation will provide the matching funds.

Construction and saving continue until all group families have homes. A cycle normally takes about two years. After the group has built all their houses, they continue to save and pay off their outstanding no-profit, no-interest loans to Habitat. The repaid money becomes part of a revolving fund to assist further “Save & Build” groups.

Habitat for Humanity Cambodia plans to establish a Building and Training Center to provide practical technical assistance for homeowners and groups interested in eliminating substandard housing. This will include assistance with simple house designs, appropriate local building materials and technologies, empowering communities to help themselves for housing and related infrastructure, training for homeowner groups, other NGOs, and government officials on housing issues, and information on housing matters and other issues.

Habitat for Humanity International is a Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. Founded by Millard Fuller, along with his wife, Linda, Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates in more than 3,000 communities in 92 nations have built and sold more than 150,000 homes to partner families with no-profit, zero-interest mortgages.

For information, contact, Shauna Wood, HFH Australia, + 61 2 9635 0199, or, or Peter Witton, HFH Asia-Pacific, + 66 6 1051767, or