Craig Leishman, Rachel Dillon and Andrew Aldridge from CALA Homes
Craig Leishman, Rachel Dillon and Andrew Aldridge from CALA Homes

House building firm shares the spirit of Christmas in Cambodia

Christmas spirit was alive in Cambodia thanks to a group from a Scottish housebuilding firm.

A team of employees from CALA Homes have recently returned from Cambodia where they have been taking part in The Big Build project, organised by the charity, Habitat for Humanity (HFH).

The Big Build seeks to help tackle poverty by building and renovating homes for vulnerable families.

Craig Leishman (Contracts Manager, East of Scotland) from Bo’ness, Rachel Dillon (Group Training and Development Manager) and CALA’s Andrew Aldridge (Land Director, Chiltern), have raised over £8,000 for the charity by joining 250 volunteers from across the world to build 29 homes in just 10 days, for families currently living in informal settlements in the Battambang Province.

Speaking about the experience, Craig said: ‘My name was put forward by CALA Homes to take part in the The Big Build project – which was like nothing I had ever experienced before.

Craig Leishman, Rachel Dillon and Andrew Aldridge from CALA Homes

‘The experience definitely pulled at the heart strings. It’s not until you see the conditions in countries like Cambodia that you realise how lucky you are. It was such a culture change.
‘People were living in huts and not wearing shoes. Many were living on land that did not belong to them and were being evicted.

‘There is a lot more work still needed in Cambodia and CALA Homes is planning send a larger team of volunteers next year. I’m hoping to join in again and make a difference to people’s lives, and would encourage others to take up this wonderful opportunity too.’

Alan Brown, CALA’s Group chief executive added: ‘We are proud to support this initiative with Habitat for Humanity.

‘The Big Build project makes such a huge difference to the lives of the people it supports and I’m delighted that we have been able to play a part in such important work.

‘It’s clear the team found the experience extremely rewarding and we look forward to sending a larger group of volunteers next year.

‘We would like to thank all our sponsors and supporters, particularly Haymarket Ltd, Oregon Timber Frame Engineering, Voice Business, The Keil Centre, BlueSky Experiences, Avonside Group Services and Access Solutions Scaffolding.’

Some of the volunteers in the Battambang Province

The Cambodian Government has estimated that at least 10 million people lack access to decent housing. 2.8 million people, or 17.7% of the population, still live in extreme poverty without any social safety net, and an estimated 2 million houses need critical improvement to meet minimum quality standards. It’s estimated that an additional 1.1 million houses will be needed by 2030 as a result of a population increase and rural urban migration in Cambodia.

Meryl Davies, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Great Britain, said: ‘I’m delighted CALA Homes has participated in our Big Build in Battambang. Their commitment to providing safe, affordable homes for vulnerable families is testament to the values shared between our organisations.

‘My thanks to Craig, Rachel and Andrew for their remarkable fundraising and dedication to our mission. They were invaluable members of the Big Build team and I know they have made a huge difference to the lives of the families they worked alongside in Cambodia.’

For the past decade, HFH has been working to provide holistic housing solutions and helping to secure land tenure for the homeless, informal settlers, those affected by HIV/AIDS, and street children and orphans. Since 2012, more than 17,820 families have gained access to housing through HFH’s partnerships.

For more information on Habitat for Humanity, click HERE.