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Kandal families settle into Habitat homes

KANDAL PROVINCE
THE 21 families from the former Stung Meanchey dump site who received new homes in Kandal province last year from the NGO Habitat for Humanity have faced some difficulty settling in and establishing new sources of income, though they generally seem happy with their new homes, Habitat staff said during a visit to the site on Wednesday.

In November, the families worked alongside Habitat volunteers to construct the New Life Community in Oudong district. Former US president Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, who started Habitat’s Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project, appeared at the site and met the homeowners on November 21.

Along with her husband and two children, Eagk Srey Hak moved to the community after living for 10 years at the dump site, which was shut down in July.

“At first it was difficult because of the different way of living, but we are starting to adapt already, and we are very happy to live here. Our community is united, and we do everything together with one heart and one mind,” Eagk Srey Hak said.

Ly Senlin, a community organiser for Habitat, said many of the families had been unsure as to how they could make money away from the dump site, where they had worked as scavengers.

“Habitat has been working with the families to start again in this new community by helping them to set up new businesses so they can afford to pay their mortgage,” he said.

In most Habitat communities, families are required to pay 25 percent of the total cost of their homes. But a couple from Australia, Paul and Aileen Munn, decided to cover that expense after visiting families at Stung Meanchey in 2006, Ly Senlin said.

He added that the families would be required to pay a mortgage of $15 per month after they had lived in the community for six months.

“That way, we are giving them time to set up their new businesses so they can afford to make the monthly payments,” he said.

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