New local building project helps families abroad

Published: Sep. 25, 2017 at 1:56 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2017 at 6:43 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - A roof over a family's head in Evansville will lead to dozens of new homes for those in need across the globe.

Project 33 1/3 was created by a local builder to help struggling families in third world countries.

Every cut, every nail, all to help build a home with a bigger purpose.

"We come to Evansville, Indiana, build something that's large, something that we see very often in North America, we take the proceeds from that, put it into a third world country where we can literally multiply it by 33 times," said Lee Chandler, Project 33 1/3.

Builder and philanthropist Lee Chandler is building a north side home for a local family.  The family pays the full amount.  Local companies discount materials and labor, and those savings then cover the costs for homes in Cambodia.

"When he came back from his first trip to Cambodia, and he told me the stories, I had tears in my eyes because it makes a huge difference what he's doing," said Jennifer Mitchell with Lensing Wholesale

Jennifer Mitchell is one of several Tri-State companies donating to the project.

"We supplied the windows, the doors, and the overhead garage doors."

Others are giving their time.

"We're donating a portion of our labor to the project.  It's really awesome for the rest of the guys too because Lee has a picture board in the garage so we can all really see the effect after we do our part, what goes on after that, to see those people who really have nothing and to just help them, it's a good feeling in your heart," said Bob Stallman with Tom Champion Construction

It costs around $3,000 to build each home in southeast Asia.

"Some of these people are literally living on a table with a plastic cover over it.  They're living in houses that are ramshackle, barely standing up, and because of heavy floods for three months out of the year, some of them get flooded out," said Chandler.

"So we come in and build new houses on stilts out of the floodplain."

The new homes are modest.

"Most of us can look at that and it can be the size of somebody's walk-in closet," said Chandler.

The result is life changing, both for the Cambodian families and the workers themselves.

"When we actually see them go into their homes for the very first time, it's magical."

Chandler has been building homes in third world countries for years, helping people like Nom who is physically challenged and in a wheelchair.

"For three months out of the year, she would sit in 14 inches of water, and we were able to build it up out of the ground so now it's much more comfortable for her."

Chandler hopes this new project will encourage more local companies to get involved.

"He's putting everything in perspective for a lot of people that wouldn't normally know that kind of situation, so the fact that Evansville, Indiana can be a part of it I think is pretty cool," said Mitchell.

"If it's stimulated in someone today to reach out to someone even in North America, in the Houston area, down into Miami, down through Florida, I encourage them to do that, it doesn't have to be us.  All we're trying to do is make a difference in the world today," said Chandler.

Chandler and his team will leave in October to build the homes in Cambodia. Construction should be complete by Christmas.

Click here to contribute or learn more about the project.

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