A success story of our graduate sewing student, Sampheas

Originally posted on Human and Hope Association.

Sampheas stopped studying in grade 9 when she failed the exam. Then she just stayed home and looks after her sisters and brothers. When she was 18 she worked in a golf club as a Caddy, collecting golf ball. At the age of 20, she got married, but her married life was not good as she and her husband got divorced after she has two children. Her life situation has been very awful. She was so poor and she has to take care of her two children. She went to work as a housekeeper, after that she worked as a construction worker.

One day, her aunt told her and her parents about our sewing program. At first, she didn’t want to learn as she thought that, no one earns the money to support her children. By the support and encouragement from her parents, she decided to learn with a hope to have her own sewing shop for a living.

After learning our beginner sewing class for three months, Sampheas took a microfinance loan from us as she wanted to practice her skills more at home and earn some money from fixing and making clothes for her neighbors. A few months before she graduated, we hired her as our seamstress. She has worked with us and made the products for a year. She now earns $80-$120 per month.

“I am very happy to join the program at HHA as I can see myself different. I have a skill and I can earn the income to support my family by working at home. HHA always gives me the opportunity to improve myself by learning new skills; I have changed my mindset and learn something new. I love my job more and more and I will do it all my best”.- Sampheas

It is not only Sampheas who has received this opportunity, we have also supported many more and we keep continuing to support other marginalized villagers in our community to change their lives.


Why You Should Shop Ethically

Being mindful of the way you shop and the choices you make during shopping is so crucial, especially in today’s time. When shopping, thinking about the impact your choices can make on the environment as well as society as a whole is something individuals like you and me should ponder over. So why exactly should you shop ethically is a question asked by many.

To make lives easier, we shall discuss what exactly shopping ethically means and what is the significance of doing so. Let’s have a look.

What is ethical shopping?

In simple terms, the ethical behaviour portrayed by consumers when making shopping decisions is called ethical shopping. This can take a diverse array of forms that include the following.

1.    Giving ethical products greater weight while shopping

This means taking factors like fair trade, free from animal cruelty and organically grown products into consideration.

2.    Avoid goods that you consider to have a negative influence

This means making smart choices while shopping and avoiding products like polluting cars and battery eggs.

3.    Support Company based purchasing

This statement refers to complete boycott of a brand as a whole. This is done in the hopes of implementation of better and more beneficial policies for all of society.

Top 5 Reasons You Should Shop Ethically

1.    Making others succeed should be a part of your daily motivation in life

Purchasing small batch good that are sustainable is as important for small businesses as it gives entrepreneurship a boost. In other words, your little step can help make small designers, artisans and creators stay in business.

2.    Learning to take part in someone else’s story

When a consumer chooses to make the decision of purchasing a product that has been upcycled, recycled or just made through means of fair trade, you become a part of someone else’s story that can be passed on from one individual to the next. What a rewarding feeling it is to know that tomorrow you shall be capable of passing this story on for someone else to reiterate.

3.    Stand above the rest

Be it for personal satisfaction or for the benefit of others, always ensure that your purchasing decision is unique. By making the choice of avoiding good being produced on a mass production scale, you are giving yourself the guarantee that your product will stand above the rest of the crowd.

4.    Always take Mother Nature and Planet Earth into consideration

If you consider yourself to be any good ethically, then taking care of the environment and planet should be high on your priority list. By purchasing goods from small business corporations that behave with a responsible and sustainable attitude, you are well on your way of showing care for Mother Nature and the planet earth.

5.    Support the concept of innovation

Those companies who base their policies of production based on recycling and other means of sustainability concepts, they are miles ahead of the rest when it comes to ethics. As a consumer, play your role for society and invest in these businesses who strive for driving change.

 A simple thought can go a long way. With that being said, being mindful of how you shop can impact your surrounding and standard of living. Be smart in decision making and keep your eyes and mind open for the struggle of a better world.

Empower a Cambodian Family this Christmas!

Christmas is fast approaching, and we have the perfect gifts for the person who has everything or is passionate about alleviating social injustices in the world!

The gift of education ($10) – The Khmer language classes at Human and Hope Association began in 2014 when the staff noticed some children in their community were not enrolled in public school even though they were of age. These students were aged between seven and thirteen, and studied Khmer for one hour a day in addition to English. Their development was remarkable, with their behaviour improving dramatically and their knowledge skyrocketing. These students learnt the Khmer alphabet, which consists of 33 consonants, 23 dependent vowels, and 13 independent vowels. They made the transition to public school successfully, and have been moving up in their classes.

Following on this success, Human and Hope Association opened the Khmer language program to their students who were already enrolled in public school.  They chose these students to join our class because despite studying in grades 2, 3 and 4 at public school, they were illiterate. Public schools in Cambodia tend to have up to sixty students in each class, leaving little ability for teachers to spend time on the students who need extra help. Human and Hope Association now hold Khmer language classes in the morning and afternoon, and all students are able to progress at public school due to these classes.

This gift will provide language classes to a Cambodian child for just $10, enabling them to access 20 hours of education, clean drinking water, and a safe learning environment.

The gift of empowerment ($50) – The community support program at Human and Hope Association is run by their Education and Community Manager and our Community and Education Assistant. As part of their outreach, these staff members are responsible for running child protection workshops for community members and adults in HHA’s projects, so they can help the community identify and stop child abuse.

They also aim to promote the benefits of education to the community and encourage parents to enroll their children in Public School. Our Poor Level One, Two and Three beneficiaries are visited every two months, so staff can track their progress and the outcomes of our projects, offer advice and determine ways we can improve on the assistance we offer the community. Constant feedback is sought from the community members so their projects are effective.

If they encounter any problems with their students, HHA’s community team visit the child’s family and try to reach a solution with them. They contact the necessary authorities if a situation is deemed to be out of their depth.

This program has built a good reputation for Human and Hope Association and has made it much easier to recruit students for our various programs due to the positive words which are spread around the community.

This gift will provide a Cambodian family with outreach and support for a full year, helping them to address issues they face and equipping them with the confidence to break the cycle of poverty.

The gift of nutrition ($100) – The family farm program at Human and Hope Association encourages families to improve their standard of living. They are provided with training, knowledge, and resources for farming so they are able to grow chemical-free food for their own use and to sell. The training is conducted once a year, every Sunday for four months, and each lesson includes theory and practice. After training, the staff at Human and Hope Association continue following up with the students for six months to ensure they apply what they have learned in the program and also to assist them.

This program was initiated after several months of research, a trial involving two families, and feedback/evaluation. The family farm program primarily involves the parents of HHA’s students in their opportunity scholarship program, as they have been identified as having the biggest need for this program. The general community is then recruited in an effort to ensure the majority of our community members have access to fresh, chemical-free vegetables.

The lessons include compost making, growing 15 types of vegetables, financial management, child protection and other life skills topics.

This gift will provide a Cambodian family with farming training for just $100, giving them access to 32 hours of training, farming resources and six months of follow up support.

Why Women’s Empowerment is So Important

Written by Savdy Doeung, Vocational Training Coordinator at Human and Hope Association

In some societies, women are still discriminated on their gender. They are not given the same right as men. Women are still paid less, expected to cook, clean etc. Women are still strict by their culture and family. As women can’t go out at night or with the guys. Some Cambodian women are determined by their parents or husband. They still not allowed women to work or study far away from their home because they believed that women are weaker than men and some husbands get jealously. In additionally, some women in Cambodia married in young age and some also forced to married by their parents.  Women’s empowerment is really needed in the societies. It’s so important for women self-esteem and also for societies.

Empowering women is to give women the right. Women can have equal right to participate in education, society, economy and politically. Women can involve in society as they are glad to choose their religious, language, work and other activities. Women are allowed higher education as men. They can go with the high-level of education, finish their classes, learn the skill and study whatever they want. Women also can join the politically as they have right to vote and do some activities in political.

Women’s empowerment is a part to encourage women to feel strong by telling them that they can do everything that they want to do. Women can work outside their home, have opportunity to make up their mind.  Women are not depended on men. They can earn money to support their family by working through their abilities. As some women are not confident to work in a hard condition or a high position because they still determine that it’s not women’s job.

Empowerment helps to reduce in domestic violence due people promote and give the value to women. Women are not abused by any factors such as sexual abuse, emotion abuse and physical abuse.

These day women are achieving high-level job just as man do. Some women are promoted to become a president, leader, chief of commune and other high-level positions. And there are many women now are participating in society, politically, education and economically.

Women who attend the sewing program at HHA are really empowered. HHA empowers them through giving them skill and also teach them life skill lessons. They have learnt a lot from us for 10 months. All of them are from very poor family. Some of them are not empowered by their family or husband due they always claim that women are better not to study more or work outside their home. But they still fight and join us this program. As the result of Empowering by HHA, those women are really change in their life. They can earn more money to support their family, they can get a happiness in their family as they don’t have domestic violence and they have learnt other lessons related to their living.

“I have changed a lot since I started to join sewing program at HHA. I have a skill now, so I can find more money to support my family. There are many people criticized on me such as my neighbors and my relative when I joined this program, because they think that it’s useless. I believe myself and I am empowered by HHA. I am very thankful to HHA that give me this opportunity.” Lin, our sewing student said.

5 Ways to Brighten Up Your Wardrobe This Spring

From the blooming of flowers to the longer duration days, spring has been a constant favourite for many people out there. As spring time approaches us all, many join in upon bidding their goodbyes to winter clothes and saying hello to funky and fashionable spring attire.

Spring has always been considered a fun season due to the comfortable and lightweight, yet stylish clothes associated with it. To brighten up your wardrobe this spring season, we bring to you our top favourite stylish tips and tricks that are sure to turn heads this year. Here’s how you can do it!

Be open to adding that splash of colour

It’s true that neutral tones, as well as blacks and charcoal, hit the right notes but that season is over. Spring is all about adding a splash of colour to liven up your wardrobe. From pinks and oranges to purples and greens, adding a hint of colour can really uplift your mood and make that ordinary outfit special.

Liven up your outfit with accessories

Winter has come to an end and that means replacing scarves and mittens with some stylish accessories. The perfect accessory can take your outfit to a whole different level. Examples include long tassel earrings, lace up shoes, trendy sneakers and mules. The choice is all yours and the world is your playground.

Add a layer of cardigan to enhance your look

In order to prepare yourself for the swift change of the winter season to the summer season, add layers to your outfit. The perfect way to begin is incorporating a cardigan into your outfit. Cardigans don’t have to be boring, opt for those with a striking funky/bright colour and you’ll be good to go.

Men should switch from dark ties to lighter shades

When you’re a business man on the go, the best place where you can aim to add that splash of colour in your wardrobe is your tie. Start with light shades of blue, purple, yellow and light green. Always strive to coordinate your tie with the colour of your shirt for the perfect result.

Sequined Tank

Having a pair of the perfect sort of tank is so crucial in today’s wardrobe for women. This is because your tank can be worn in a number of different ways and to various occasions too. Tanks embellished with sequins are the perfect spring staple this season. The sparkly glow top can be teamed up with a pair of perfect blue jeans for day wear or mixed with an embellished skirt for those formal dinners after dark.

Transitioning from the colder months to the warmer season requires a change in wardrobe too. The season of spring is all about embracing colour as well as taking your attire to a whole new level. Whether you plan on simply adopting a brighter scheme of colour or embellishing those outfits with just the right amount of accessories, your wardrobe should reflect the right type of spring awakening you desire.

Scholarships for Cambodia

Do you remember the excitement of going back to school shopping? Heading down to the local store. Picking out a new backpack. Testing the range of pens in different colours and sizes. Then, when you got home, scouring through your magazines to find the perfect images to be proudly displayed on the covers of your books. When you started the new school year, you showed your new resources to your classmates with pride.

Unfortunately, the students studying at Human and Hope Association don’t experience this. With 1/3 living below the poverty line and many more hovering just above it, study supplies are a luxury that their families just can’t afford. This affects their willingness to come to school because, without study supplies, they are unable to retain the information they need to learn English and Khmer.

That’s where you come in. We are on a mission to raise $7,000 so we can provide 50 marginalised Cambodian children with scholarship packs and free education in 2018.

Over the course of a year, each student receives:

  • Free education
  • An over-the-shoulder bag made by our sewing graduates
  • Two English textbooks that have been produced by the HHA team
  • Two Khmer textbooks that have been produced by the HHA team (if they study in the Khmer language program)
  • Six notebooks
  • Six pens
  • 12 pencils

A home assessment is conducted by the community team before a child is brought into the scholarship program. Their parents sign a contract that commits them to allow their children to study at Human and Hope Association. They also commit to partaking in workshops on topics such as parenting, domestic violence, and road safety. Where possible, the parents partake in the sewing and/or family farm programs, so they can build their skill set and earn a sustainable income to support their children’s education in the future.

When you donate to our campaign, you will have the opportunity to receive our exclusive new range of Children’s Education Kits.

These kits are perfect gifts for Christmas and will keep the kids entertained on road trips, hot Summer days and whilst waiting for the school bell to ring. These Children’s Education Kits are made by sewing graduates from Human and Hope Association, so not only are you providing education to children with your purchases, you are also providing an income to the women who made them!

Naughts and crosses kit – Who doesn’t love playing naughts and crosses? This kit features a game board and playing pieces and closes neatly with a coconut shell button.

Games Kit – Featuring a pad of coloured paper and eight crayons in a foldable pouch, along with a game of elastics, this games kit is perfect for children who love to burn off energy!

Hangman Kit – Let the kids battle it out with this Hangman kit! It features paper, pencils and fabric Hangman parts.

Old School Kit – Want to keep kids entertained without a screen? Head back to the ‘old days’ (aka 1999) with this game kit! Featuring a 24-piece puzzle, memory game and 25 pieces of Origami paper, this game is a great present for siblings to share.

Be quick, our crowdfunding campaign ends on the 31st of October. Pledge to educate a Cambodian child and pick up an education kit today!

Sustainable Fashion: Why it is Necessary?


What is sustainable fashion one might ask? Sustainable fashion or eco fashion aims at an individual’s social responsibility as a consumer. The primary goal of this philosophy is to basically initiate a phenomenon that focuses on sustainability; one that can be supported forever in terms of human influence on this planet’s environment.

Fashion trends change with the blink of an eye. There is always something or the other that is a must have in everyone’s wardrobe. Fast fashion instigates sales whereas sustainable fashion focuses on good quality manufacturing that will last for a lot longer than your average piece of clothing. Following are some reasons why sustainable fashion is necessary.

Environmental Impact

As consumers, fashion plays an integral part in contributing towards general environmental impact in terms of resource dependence. This impact ranges from widespread pesticide use during the growth process to the extensive use of toxic chemicals and dyes during the refining and development of the amount of energy consumed for the final processing of each and every piece along with the subsequent manual labour input. Opting for sustainable raw material potentially requires a significantly reduced amount of chemicals for its manufacture. The clothing industry alone is accountable for approximately 10% of the total carbon output for the whole world. Not only that but sustainable fabric complies with the Fair Trade Act. The sustainable fabric is manufactured under safe working conditions where the labourers earn a fair wage.

Intelligent Consumerism

Fast fashion leads to increase in demands as new and innovative designs are introduced in the market along with on the rise trends that take the world by storm almost overnight. Fair trade and transparency are gaining momentum in different industries. In the fashion world, there have been instances with increased demands in sustainable fashion yet there still has to be groundbreaking progress in the right direction. Sustainable fashion promotes intelligent consumerism because these products are durable, trendy, and timeless. People are gravitating towards making smart investments in classic silhouettes and cuts that will stay on trend for years to come potentially saving them a huge sum of money.

Shift in Trends

To initiate global change, the toxic cycle of careless consumption must be brought to a halt. With the rise in population and decrease in natural capital, many trials lie ahead for the fashion industry. Resource shortage is highly anticipated owing to the shift in the global climate along with an ever increasing population. The potential outcome of such drastic changes cannot be accurately predicted. The fashion industry will have no other option but to eventually adapt to this change as resources become limited. This change will consequently trigger a shift in trends that will in turn actively benefit society.

Sustainable fashion is durable and reliable. For those who remotely care about the dangers that come hand in hand with human environmental impact, this shift in priority is a step in the right direction. Opt for organic fabric as opposed to the synthetic garbage that dominates the retail market and helps make a change for good.

Make sure to visit our online store for sustainable fashion, toys, accessories and homewares that have been made in Cambodia! All proceeds provide education in Siem Reap.

The best DIY skin care tips to pamper yourself this Spring

Cold weather is good for things like staying in bed, heading to the snow and occasional consumption of hot fish, but for your skin, it’s torture. So by the time spring comes, your dry and cracked skin is fed up and ready for a taste of spring weather. Along with long, warmer days, spring season also comes with a plethora of ingredients perfect for healing, moisturizing and alleviating your skin. Examine the aisles of your grocery store, and you will see them stocked with some of the best fruits, vegetables, and oils able to kick your big-brand skin care products.

Say yes to a scrub

The first step to the spring-ready skin is to shed your winter skin! Before you lament over your lack of pre-summer soft skin, go DIY. You can quickly make an at-home body scrub to slough off the last of winter’s dull skin. Choose either salt or sugar (sugar will be slightly gentler on the skin) and an organic oil of choice. We suggest olive and coconut oils for their richness. Coconut oil sugar scrub does a great exfoliating job, as it gets rid of all dead skin cells and give you a new, fresh look.

  • Mix one part oil (of your choice) to two parts sugar or salt in a container. The contents will separate, which is entirely normal. Add two to three drops of your essential oil of choice. We love grapefruit or lavender. Now you have a pure and divine DIY body scrub to enhance your experience of next shower.

At-home hydrotherapy

Several spa treatments either start or end with some kind of hydrotherapy. Usually, it involves starting off in a warm pool and then plunging into a cooler one to boost circulation. You are left feeling relaxed yet energized, but you do not have to hit the spa for that to happen. All you need is hit the showers at your home.

  • Start with a hot shower (not too hot but pleasantly warm) for one minute. Now, switch to cold water for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat three to five minutes. Emerge feeling ready to face the long spring day!

Make it a mask

Treatment masks, whether applied at a spa or purchased from a beauty store, can be pricey, but you do not need to dip into your purse to treat your skin. What’s in your kitchen can be an affordable yet most effective way to get gorgeous skin. The most common skin care concerns in spring season are a complexion that’s a) too dry or b) too oily. Check out these two useful and quick fixes.

  • Strawberry mask clarifies your skin and busts excess oil. Crush three to four berries, add two tablespoons of organic yogurt and the juice from one-quarter of a lemon. Mix well and apply to dry, clean skin. Leave on for 5-10 minutes, then rinse well.
  • For an effective and cheap dry skin solution, add one tablespoon of yogurt in a mashed avocado. Mix well, apply and leave on for five to ten minutes. Rinse well and use your regular moisturizer.

Steam and tone skin

Instead of wasting hard-earned money on products meant to get your skin glowing, do it all on your own. Steam your skin (you don’t even need a steamer) to open the clogged pores and boost circulation.

  • Simply add warm (not boiling) water to a glass bowl. Add few crushed mint leaves for freshness, cover your head with a large towel to keep the steam in and sit with your face over the bowl. Five to ten minutes should do the trick.

Next, it’s time to tone, but again you don’t need to hit the beauty aisle. Just brew chamomile or green tea, let it cool for few minutes in the fridge, add to spray bottle, and voila – you have made a refreshing toner for the cost of a tea bag.

Why we love Balmain Market

Have you ever visited Balmain Market? If you are a Sydneysider, we are assuming you have, as it is the third longest running market in all of Sydney!

Located at St Andrew’s Congregational Church, Balmain Market was established in 1977. Going strong for 40 years, they are obviously doing something right! Held every Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm, Balmain Market is a fantastic place to catch up with friends for lunch, browse stalls with your favourite loved one or chill out while listening to the different live music it has to offer. We don’t just love Balmain Market for their atmosphere. There are other reasons, too:

They are run by a really lovely family – The markets are run by a close-knit family and volunteers from St Andrew’s Congregational Church who genuinely cares about the stallholders. When we attend the markets, we often hear from stallholders that Balmain Market is their favourite place to sell their bits and bobs because they always feel welcomed and are treated like a family!

Stalls for community groups and not-for-profits are free – That’s right, every time we host a stall at Balmain Market, we are able to do so for free. This limits our risk, increases our profits and ensures that we are able to send all of the proceeds from the sale of our gorgeous handicrafts back to Cambodia. The organisers at the markets occasionally hold raffles and donate the proceeds to charity (including Human and Hope Association), which shows they really care about helping the community.

The location is superb – The markets are located at the historic St Andrews Congregational Church grounds which were built in 1853. After you admire the gorgeous architecture, you can browse the wide arrange of stalls that are spread out with just the right amount of space, and bask in the glorious sun.

We will be at Balmain Markets on Saturday, 12th of August and 9th of September, so be sure to pop by and pick up one of our gorgeous handicrafts!

These gift packs just landed, and we can’t get enough!

Since our handicrafts need to be flown all the way from Cambodia, we don’t get new stock in as frequently as we would like. We yearn for the occasions when we receive a big box in the mail, sit down and slowly tear the cardboard box open. Inside, we find dozens of handicrafts of all different fabrics and designs, neatly packed by our Cambodian team. We savour the moment, reflecting on the hard work that has gone into producing every single item. We then carefully gather our new stock, take photos and upload them to our online store. This only happens a couple of times a year, which makes the process ever so precious.

It is now that time of the year again, and some amazing new products have just landed!

Kid’s Gift Packs – Know a child who simply adores Spiderman, Finding Dory, Beauty and the Beast or Disney Pixar? Then these reasonably priced kid’s packs are the perfect gifts! Featuring a crayon carrier with a coconut shell button and 16 non-toxic crayons, along with a colouring book, our kid’s pack is a great road trip accessory. All proceeds support education, vocational training and community support projects to move Cambodians out of poverty, so this kid’s pack is extra special!

Busy Bee Gift Packs – Do you know someone who is always busy? Help them keep organised by gifting one of our wonderful Busy Bee gift packs! This unique gift packs feature:

  • A keyring to store loose change, golf tees, guitar picks or anything they fancy!
  • A notepad to keep all their busy bee thoughts together
  • A pack of eight coloured pens to keep their writing fun and colourful
  • A pencil case made from traditional Khmer fabric
  • An adopted elephant who they can cuddle at night when settling down after a busy day

As always, the stock is limited, so we suggest you get in quickly! We will be selling our new range of gift packs at Balmain Market on the 12th of August and 9th of September. We hope to see you there!

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