HIV/AIDS Families To Get Homes With Help From NGO

HIV/AIDS affected families evicted from Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community this year will be given new concrete homes at their relocation site in Dangkao district’s Tuol Sambou village, a representative of the NGO Caritas said yesterday.

Kim Rattana, deputy director of Caritas Cambodia, said yesterday that his organization is partnering with UN agencies and City Hall to build homes for 45 families who have been living in corrugated metal sheds at a relocation site widely deplored by human rights groups.

“Each house will be 4-by-7 me­ters. This is bigger than the existing ones,” Mr Rattana said by telephone. “It will have a kitchen and bathroom inside the house and we will make some space in front of the house, and we will plant some trees in front of the house for shade.”

He added that the decision was made after representatives of UNAIDS and the National AIDS Authority visited Tuol Sambou in August.

“We came to a conclusion that we had to support these people immediately,” Mr Rattana said. “The living conditions were really affecting their health.”

Construction will begin on the new homes next month, starting with the demolition of the majority of the green sheds. “We will use the material to construct the temporary houses for the people,” he explained.

Community member Vinh Thy said yesterday that she was pleased with the news. “I am really, really happy when I heard that NGO Caritas is going to build concrete houses for us.”

Her health situation has become increasingly urgent, Ms Thy added. “My CD4 levels are still declining due to the hot weather and food shortages,” she said, referring to the concentration of a type of white blood cell that acts as an indicator of health for HIV/AIDS patients.

Sao Dany said yesterday that it was beyond her expectations to receive a new house. “The construction of a concrete house was not even a dream for me,” she explained.

She added that life at Tuol Sam­bou is almost unbearable at the present. “Although it has been raining for a week, it is still hot and it is hard to stay under the hot zinc” of the sheet-metal sheds.

However, both women said they were worried that they would be expected to contribute money for the construction of the new homes. “The concern arising in my head now is that the construction will cost me nothing, because we earn so little to buy food,” Ms Dany said.

Mr Rattana confirmed that the houses would be given to the families free of charge. “It is an emergency program. Each family is getting ownership,” he said.

After the homes are completed, in about six months, the families will immediately receive a certificate of ownership, and after five years, full titles will be distributed, Mr Rattana said. “This is to prevent them from selling the houses immediately,” he explained.

The $200,000 project will also see the families receiving food supplies for three months and microloans to support small business development, he added.

Meanwhile, the families have been assured one year of transportation covering the 20 km to healthcare facilities in central Phnom Penh, according to Chea Sarith, president of the Women’s Organi­zation for Modern Economy and Nursing. WOMEN will begin supplying transportation at the end of the month.


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