PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA, 14th September 2010: Habitat for Humanity today launched an important project in Cambodia, working alongside four partners, to improve the living conditions of people living with HIV/AIDS. The project is supported by the Elton John AIDS Foundation , the UK philanthropic arm of Sir Elton John.
Over the next two years, the £810,000 (approximately US$1,220,000) program will bring safe, decent housing to 320 families comprising orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) and those infected/affected by HIV/AIDS.
“Habitat can now take its activities in Cambodia to a whole new level by targeting this unique group of highly vulnerable people thanks to the Foundation’s generous support. This program – the first Habitat project in Cambodia to support some of the country’s most socially and economically vulnerable and marginalized people to fulfill the great human need of housing – will added an extra dimension to our collective fight against poverty housing,” said Rick Hathaway, Asia-Pacific vice president for Habitat for Humanity International.
“Since its inception, the Foundation has supported hundreds of thousands of men, woman and children to access pain relief, life saving medications, food, counselling and HIV information. I am delighted that we are expanding our support to HIV/AIDS affected families in the critical arena of Shelter, with this Habitat grant in Cambodia” said Sir Elton John, Chairman of the Foundation.
At a special ceremony held at Raffles Le Royal Hotel in Phnom Penh today, Cambodia’s Secretary of State for Health, H.E. Professor Eng Hout; the British ambassador Andrew Mace; Ian Pearce from HFH Great Britain; and Habitat home partner Ly Nat all spoke about how having a healthy home can positively change lives. Also in attendance to celebrate the ceremonial launch of this landmark project were government officials, representatives from Cambodia’s HIV/AIDs sector and local and international NGOs.
Habitat for Humanity Great Britain has played a key role in securing the partnership with the Elton John Aids Foundation.
In implementing the program, Habitat for Humanity Cambodia will partner with four local and international NGOs currently running successful programs for OVC and people infected/affected by HIV/AIDS in the country to implement the project. HFH Cambodia will complement and enhance these on-going programs by providing land, houses and undertaking house repairs for their beneficiaries so that they will have safe, decent homes to live.
A total of 120 new houses will be built and 200 homes rehabilitated or repaired.
HFH Cambodia’s partners are Save the Children Australia, and three local NGOs, Khemara, Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope and SEAD (Sharing Experience for Adapted Development).
The target locations are communities in and around the capital, Phnom Penh, and Prey Veng, a densely populated agricultural region on the eastern banks of the Mekong River, bordering Vietnam.
The project will also increase livelihood opportunities by training family members in construction skills.
According to a 2005 UNICEF report, 8.8 percent of children in Cambodia under 18 years of age are orphans. Another UNICEF report in 2007 estimated there were 3,800 children living with HIV and an more than 1,500 babies are born each year with HIV. Overall, there are 75,000 people living with HIV in Cambodia, according to the CIA World Factbook.
Habitat for Humanity began working in Cambodia in 2002 with an initial project in Phnom Penh to assist poor families with micro-loans to help them escape proliferating loan sharks and yet afford to make improvements to their homes.
To date, HFH Cambodia has provided housing solutions for close to 1,000 families in the Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Kandal Province. It is also closely involved in a major government initiative to improve land rights for squatter families through a World Bank supported project in the Cambodian city of Battambang.
The Elton John AIDS Foundation  in the UK has funded over 1,100 projects worldwide with grants totalling more than £80 million. It is the largest HIV/AIDS grant maker in the UK and one of the 10 largest international AIDS charities. A sister organization, the Elton John AIDS Foundation , was established in the U.S.A. in 1992. EJAF-US awards grants to community-based projects in the Americas and the Caribbean. EJAF-UK focuses its grant-making on programs in Africa, Asia, and Europe.