olunteers around the world independently form their own groups - often from within schools, companies and volunteer organisations. The group is expected to raise the funds to support the cost of the project. Every year, over 75 building teams visit from around the world. Since 1996, 11,526 houses were built by more than 24,000 volunteers from around the world.


How It Began

In early 1995, Andy Payne, a teacher with UWC in Singapore, came to Cambodia and learned about Tabitha. Andy wanted his students to come and attain knowledge of poverty through a volunteer experience.

Tabitha Cambodia responded to this request by developing the house building project. The concept was to provide an experience that taught the recent history of Cambodia and combine this learning with a practical
result of the impact on many people there. This was to be done through building a small home for a family in our project.

This is how the House Building programme was born. Tabitha coordinates volunteers from around the world to help build houses for families participating in the Savings Programme. Community elders and Tabitha staff select the neediest families, who are to receive a house, from within a community.
Each Cambodian family receiving a home contributes a portion of the cost, usually between $25 and $100. It may take nearly four years for a family to save this amount, and it is a huge effort for them. The average family earns less than US$1/day.


The Family Savings programme is at the heart of Tabitha’s work and it is best described as community development focused on families. It educates and encourages families to save money. Participation in the programme is a prerequisite for Cambodians to take part in any of the other Tabitha programmes.​​



How Does It Work

Prior to the start of the savings programme, Tabitha staff members help families to develop a vision of a better life and each family decides what will be their savings goal. After that, the money is collected by the local Tabitha staff and returned at the end of each 10-week saving cycle.

The family is then encouraged to purchase their first “dream” - which may range from bare essentials such as a blanket, cooking pots and clothing to items that create additional opportunities to generate income (livestock, fishing net or sewing machine).

Families quickly see the benefits that savings bring and, before long, can afford bigger items that increase their opportunity to earn income, such as a bicycle, a battery, or by setting up a small business. This, in turn, allows the family to steadily increase their savings.

Tabitha’s relationship with a family will last for 5 to 7 years. This allows them to break the cycle of poverty and graduate to financial independence.



Tabitha’s Water Sources Programme enables families to have access to clean and portable water by building wells and ponds that provide water for drinking and washing, as well as for animals and crops’ irrigation.

How Important Is It

A safe water source, on average, is 2 miles from a village. In the absence of it, drinking water is sometimes taken from open ponds or rivers, which are commonly polluted with excreta and chemicals. Villagers, especially children, often develop infectious diseases.

In addition, without a sustainable source of clean water near their homes, families are restricted in their ability to increase their incomes. Animal husbandry or growing crops year year-round is impossible without an ongoing source of water available. During the long dry season, no crops will grow unless a reliable source of water is secured.

Almost immediately, a safe and accessible water source improves health and creates income security. Families with accessible water can grow rice and vegetables throughout the dry season and can raise livestock nearly all year long. Having a water source, beyond providing food security, will triple a family’s income.
The impact of a secure water source for Tabitha families is immense. All families are required to earn a steady source of income through their source of water.