If the Rain Must Fall

Through the generous donations of Holt supporters in the U.S., 18 families in Cambodia receive critical roof and home repairs — protecting them from annual monsoon floods.

Hout Rung is a 34-year-old widow with six children. She lives in Cambodia, in a rural mountainous province marked by stunning landscapes and deep poverty. Every year, during monsoon season, the roof of her home leaked constantly. During floods, water would sometimes wash over their entire space — soaking all of their possessions, and leaving not a single dry spot for her children to sleep at night.

From June to October, Cambodia receives nearly 75 percent of its annual rainfall — often in sheets of heavy downpour nearly two out of every three days, with as much as 15-21 inches of rain per month. Monsoons dominate the climate during the rainy months, making even rainy places in the U.S. look relatively dry. To compare, notoriously rainy Seattle, Washington receives an average of 37 inches of rain each year, while southern regions of Cambodia — where Holt serves families — averages 51 inches.

For families like Hout Rung’s who live in the impoverished region where Holt works, the rain is a big worry. During monsoon season, flooding, erosion and heavy wind often cause tremendous damage to homes and streets. And although many homes in Cambodia are built on stilts to avoid the water, sometimes flood levels reach higher than the home’s floors. In time, the wooden stilts that support the home will grow rotten and decayed, and may eventually wash away.

Hout Rung[1]
Hout Rung is a 34-year-old widow with six children. The roof of her home leaked constantly, and during flooding, water would sometimes wash over their entire space. Now, their home is built on higher stilts and the zinc roof keeps the space dry.
Most families Holt serves can barely afford the most basic necessities, like food or adequate clothing. Few have access to plumbing or a consistent source of clean water — and the flooding may threaten whatever clean water source they have. Even fewer families have the capacity to save for home repairs or maintenance. So when the rains come, families often scrounge for discarded materials to create patches for leaks. They move their possessions away from dripping in their roofs, but over time the dripping rain may rot away the wooden floor of their home. Parents worry about their children’s health, because if they fall sick from the cold or inadequate sanitization, parents are unlikely to have the means to find a doctor.

For families already struggling or on the verge of separation due to poverty, illness or other hardships, housing is critical to their overall ability to stay together. And that’s why this year, Holt matched the donations of incredible supporters in the U.S. with families in desperate need of roof and home repairs in Cambodia.

One Holt supporter, in particular, provided enough funding to repair — or in some cases rebuild —18 homes in Cambodia, including Hout Rung’s! Now, her home is built on higher stilts and the zinc roof keeps the space dry.

For Hout Rung and the other 17 families who received the most recent round of home repairs and new roofs, the impact is immeasurable. They no longer have to fear for their children’s safety, or spend limited resources repairing a thatched roof — leaving more money for other critical needs, such as their children’s school fees or medical care.

During the building process, a few families even received very basic restrooms, which has improved the health and safety of the whole family.

“Poverty in Cambodia is very bad,” says Holt’s senior executive of Southeast Asia programs, Thoa Bui. “It is some of the worst poverty that I’ve seen. Most families don’t have bathrooms — they just go in the woods — so a toilet is very exciting.”

All 18 homes repairs were for families living in the Kampot Province of Cambodia, a region on the southern border to the Gulf of Thailand and Vietnam. Many families live on subsistence farming, growing little more than what they need to survive — and often living on less than $1 per day.

Lack of infrastructure, irrigation, electricity and water and sanitation further exacerbate poverty in Kampot, and malnutrition rates among children are higher than many of the surrounding regions.

However, basic improvement to housing infrastructure can greatly impact entire communities or villages, since strong, healthy families create strong, healthy communities.

Check out some of the before-and-after images from the housing project! If you would like to give a gift to help strengthen families in the areas where Holt works, click here. Your gift can change the lives of a whole family!

The Sin Phally Home:


The foundation of the Sin Phally home was rotten from leaking and moisture, so donations from Holt supporters helped rebuild the entire home with durable tin roofing and siding. Now, Sin Phally, her mother and her four children have a warm and safe place to live.

The Nget Home:


Not only was the family’s roof in disrepair, but several of the pillars that support their house were rotten and unstable. Holt helped to repair the home, and the family is very happy they don’t have to worry about the leaks. The youngest daughter says she is happy she no longer worries when it rains. The family said they are very thankful for the continued support of their village.

The San Lok Home:


Prior to Holt’s intervention, the San Lok’s home was very leaky and uncomfortable for their two children. Holt provided materials for a new roof, and the family and their relatives helped provide the labor for the repairs. Now, the children are very happy and the San Lok family is able to use the money they were saving for other needs.

The Krech Bopha Home:


Since the home was built, the family hasn’t been able to make any changes or repairs. The mother of the family says, “Thanks to Holt International, who support my family and I no longer worry of raining.”

The Khien Ley Home:

The-Khien-Ley-FamilyOriginally build of coconut tree and thatched branches, the mother of the home says that her family hasn’t had a dry place to sleep in many years. Even the scraps of zinc they used to patch the roof rusted over. Now, she is happy that she and her children can stay in the home without worrying about rain.


The Keo Rim Home:


Keo Rim is a widow with two children. Her family lives in a single room home, about 250 square feet in size. The walls and roof, made from coconut trees, were broken and leaking and during flooding, the home was too low to the ground to keep water out. With Holt’s help, the house was rebuilt on higher stilts, and now Keo Rim and her children are happy to live in a safe home. Keo Rim says thank you to the donors who supported her and her family.

The Hout Rung Home:

The-Hout-Rung-FamilyHout Rung is a 34-year-old widow with six children. The roof of her home leaked constantly, and during flooding, water would sometimes wash over their entire space. Now, their home is built on higher stilts and the zinc roof keeps the space dry.

Billie Leowen | Creative Lead

If you would like to give a gift to help strengthen families in the areas where Holt works, click here.

To learn more about our work in Cambodia, click here.

One Reply to “If the Rain Must Fall”

  1. Billie-thanks for the great, informative article! Loved seeing the before/during/after reconstruction pictures. I’ll be sharing this article on the Live Music Cares Facebook: Facebook.com/LiveMusicCaresSponsorships

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