Most of the families who received donations on the visit of former US president Jimmy Carter last week to be relocated outside Phnom Penh say they now have to return to the capital to find work.
The families, some of the city’s poorest, received housing help through Habitat for Humanity, but they will have to repay half of the funds provided, many of them told VOA Khmer.
The families have found it hard to make a living in their new location in Oudong, in Kandal province, outside the capital.
“None of the families can yet think of what to do,” said Huot Phally, who recently moved to the site, 40 kilometers from the city.
Huot Phally and her husband used to earn around $4 a day collecting trash for recycling around Phnom Penh, a job they no longer have.
“We just temporarily stay put, but we don’t know what businesses to do,” she said.
With jobs scarce at the new site, many families have been forced back to work in Phnom Penh, said Chea Chandy, a representative of the 21 families at the New Life community.
“Normally, jobs are really important for us when we move from one place to another,” he said recently, sitting by his new home. “But now, most families have returned the city to be laborers and so on.”
Each of the families will have to repay $15 a month for the next five years to share the cost of their new homes, and many expected to have land for farming or loans to start small businesses in order to make the monthly payment.
“We know that moving here will reduce their incomes, but they also know that,” said Bernadette Bolo-Duthy, Habitat’s country director. “They said: ‘We’ve already investigated and there are a few factories; we can sell, we can plant.’ That’s what they told us.”
The group will provide the families with microfinance loans, she said, “and we hope they will borrow, [which will] help them develop their businesses.”