Cambodia, Ethical shopping, Human and Hope Association, Seamstress Story

Changing lives with the skill of sewing

Imagine loving studying, but being forced to stop because your parents just simply couldn’t afford the fees for public school. This is the case for all of our seamstresses who create our ethically made products. From a young age they are forced to take care of cows, collect rubbish, make rattan baskets or work as builders. For Chomrong, it wasn’t any different.

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Coming from a province far from Siem Reap, Chomrong stopped studying in grade eight. A highly intelligent girl, she worked as a builder to support her family until she got married and moved to Siem Reap. Her husband’s family gifted them some land with a shack made from wood, bamboo and straw.

Chomrong went on to have three children, however a lack of funds meant that the family didn’t have enough food to eat and the children often fell sick. The hospital bills pushed them further into poverty.

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In 2014, the team at Human and Hope Association decided to conduct outreach in Chomrong’s village, as they knew there were many people living in poverty. Chomrong told the team that she had always wanted to study sewing, however never had the funds to do so. After conducting an assessment, Chomrong was accepted into the sewing program at Human and Hope Association and rode the 8km round journey each day by bicycle.

Chomrong excelled in class, and upon taking out a sewing machine microfinance loan, she was hired to be a seamstress to make ethically produced handicrafts at her home. Soon afterwards, Human and Hope Association moved from the pagoda where they were located and opened up a new community centre right near Chomrong’s home. This meant that her eldest daughter was able to study English and Khmer language, and her middle son joined the preschool program.

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Chomrong graduated from the sewing program in 2015, and set up a business at her home, where she is known for her high quality sewing. She and her husband began slowly building a house on their land made from bricks, which will eventually replace their unstable bamboo structure.

This year Chomrong was promoted to be an afternoon sewing teacher at Human and Hope Association, a role which she is excelling in. Chomrong now earns a good income, her children study every day at Human and Hope Association and public school, and she has reported that the domestic violence she was experiencing has been eliminated as she and her husband no longer fight over money.

Chomrong will soon have moved out of the poverty bracket entirely, thanks to the skill of sewing. By purchasing our ethically made products, you are literally changing lives.