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?

i-made-my-clothes

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!

Where To Go As A Local In Siem Reap

When you travel, do you like to see where the locals hang out? Then 60 Road is for you!

In the evenings ’60 Road’ in Siem Reap, across from the new Angkor Wat Ticket Booth, is buzzing with hundreds, if not thousands, of Cambodians. They travel to this hangout in Siem Reap by bicycle, car, motorbike or tuk tuk. The traffic is strong, and definitely not for the impatient. Up and down the road there are endless stalls selling fruit, cooked food, second hand clothing, homewares and everything in between.

Parallel to this road there is a big section where you can sit and eat a variety of cooked meats at ‘restaurants’. They are usually full, so it is best to get in early. You can also pay $1.25 to play a game and win an assortment of toys, ingredients and cooking supplies. And then of course, there are the amusement rides, such as a rollercoaster, bumper cars and huge trampolines.

Visit there in the mornings, however, and you will see a whole different side to 60 Road. It is difficult to imagine, looking at the photos below, that the place is so bustling in the evenings. In the daytime the area is empty, apart from construction workers or a few people who stay with their stalls overnight. There are multiple dogs around who will chase you if you attempt to get the perfect photo. There is rubbish everywhere. The food stalls are packed away into locked carts, numbered and named by the owners. Yet there is something serene about it.

If you do visit Siem Reap, take a trip by tuk tuk to 60 Road one evening after 6pm. It is the perfect place to get a feel of the Cambodian lifestyle, and it won’t break the budget. Unless, of course, you are committed to winning that bag of laundry detergent at the balloon popping stall.

How Microfinance Loans are Empowering Women in Siem Reap

The sewing program at Human and Hope Association has empowered dozens of women to break the cycle of poverty. Apart from sewing training, life skills lessons, business workshops and farming training, these Cambodian women can participate in a microfinance program. For just $140USD, they can purchase their own sewing machine through Human and Hope Association, and pay back their principal with an interest rate of $6USD over two years. These repayments are low risk for the students, and since the inception of the microfinance program in 2013, Human and Hope Association has maintained a 100% repayment rate. The women who study in the sewing program at Human and Hope Association earn between zero and $50USD a month before they study. Afterwards, their incomes double, triple or even quadruple, ensuring their standard of living increases dramatically.

These microfinance loans are so empowering, as the women own something by themselves, and are entirely responsible for what they choose to do with the machines. The machines might be used to increase the experience of a student while they are studying at Human and Hope Association, or perhaps the student will set up their own business. However they chose to use it, one thing is for certain. These machines are paving the way to independence for Cambodian women.

Tharch

Tharch comes from an impoverished family of five. She had no other choice but to stop studying at public school in grade eight, as she needed to help her parents each money. Tharch worked as a construction builder and worked with her mother selling jelly. Tharch approached Human and Hope Association as construction work was taxing on her body. She had always been interested in sewing, but never had the funds to pay for training. She was accepted into the sewing program and recently took out a loan to purchase an overlocker after paying off her initial loan. She works at home daily, creating clothes for her community and also as a contractor for a sewing shop.

“Human and Hope Association taught me how to save money and reduce my expenses, in addition to teaching me sewing.”

Heak

Heak was hired as a seamstress to make our handicrafts in 2015. Last year, determined to increase her income, Heak resigned from her position and began working at a shop in Siem Reap town. She now earns $120USD a month and her mental wellbeing has skyrocketed. A single mother, Heak now has a stable income to look after her five-year-old son. On the side, she uses the machine she purchased through the microfinance program to fix clothes for her villagers, earning an additional $90USD a month.

 

Liya

Liya graduated from Human and Hope Association’s sewing program in 2017. Coming from a big family of eight people, Liya stopped studying in grade seven to support her family. She took out a microfinance loan to practice her lessons, and now uses it on the weekend to sew clothes for her villagers. During the week, she works as a seamstress in Siem Reap town, earning $100USD a month.

“I am really happy that I can know sewing skill because I can rely on myself.”

Saney

A former seamstress from Hope Handicrafts, Saney resigned in 2016 as she found it difficult to juggle her home sewing business and make handicrafts. Since setting up her business at home in 2014, Saney has taken out two microfinance loans with Human and Hope Association, which she has paid off. She and her husband built a new home this year with her profits, replacing the unstable bamboo shack with a dirt floor they have lived in for nine years.

 

Soeum

Soeum is a former seamstress with Hope Handicrafts. She increased her confidence with sewing by making our handicrafts and used the experience to help her achieve her goal of working in an ethical factory in Siem Reap. She now earns $120USD  a month at the factory and uses her machine to make and fix clothes for her neighbours on the weekends. Her dream is to build a new home.

 

 

Soeuy

A current advanced sewing student, Soeuy was initially quiet and shy around her classmates. Over time, her confidence and demeanour improved, and Soeuy came out of her shell. Determined to make an income, Soeuy asked her husband to use his salary to buy her a sewing machine. She then took out a microfinance loan with Human and Hope Association to purchase an overlocker, enabling her to set up a business. Soeuy currently earns $60USD a month working part-time from her home, and upon graduation, she intends to approach a sewing shop that outsources their work.

 

Sangorb

Sangorb is a busy lady. Aside from making our handicrafts, Sangorb also has a successful business at her home, and makes on average $190USD a month. Sangorb graduated from Human and Hope Association’s sewing program in 2016, and has taken out two microfinance loans. With the profit from her business, Sangorb and her husband replaced their bamboo shack with a brick home this year.

 

Chenda

Chenda is a student in the advanced sewing class at Human and Hope Association. advanced student. She previously worked as a kitchen hand at a hotel in the evenings, and helped her husband in his scrap dealership business during the daytime. Chenda makes clothes for a sewing shop in town and fixes clothes for her neighbours. She is already earning around $105USD a month, and we expect her income to increase upon graduation.

 

These inspiring stories represent just a few of the women Human and Hope Association has empowered through their microfinance program. To learn more stories, be sure to follow Human and Hope Association on Facebook and Twitter!

Guide to Public Holidays in Cambodia

Cambodia is renowned for their large amount of public holidays. They celebrate 20 holidays each year, which can total up to 35 days off, depending on how many extra days their employers give them. Whether you are visiting Cambodia on holiday, are moving there, or just want to be green with envy, our guide to some of the most popular public holidays in Cambodia has you sorted!

International New Year’s Day – Despite having their own three-day new year in April, Cambodians celebrate international new year’s as well! If you are in Siem Reap you will see Cambodians and foreigners party until all hours of the morning on the infamous Pub Street.

Victory Over Genocide Day – This is a bittersweet celebration that marks the fall of the Khmer Rouge on January 7th, 1979.

Meak Bochea Day – This holiday always falls on the full moon in the third month of the Khmer calendar. On this day, followers of Buddhism are reminded of Buddha and his teachings. They make offerings at pagodas and spend hours praying to purify their minds.

International Women’s Day – A day that is celebrated all over the world, this special day commemorates women’s rights. The Women’s Resource Center in Siem Reap puts on a celebration every year to celebrate the achievements of women in Cambodia.

Khmer New Year – This is seen as the most important public holiday in Cambodia. People celebrate the lunar new year with trips to the temples, traditional games and lots of food. Recently, ‘Angkor Sangkranta’ has been held every year at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. Hundreds of thousands of Cambodians visit this festival that features Khmer dancing and plays, games and praying. In the evenings, Angkor Wat and Bayon temples are lit up in green and purple. It is truly magnificent, and not to be missed if you are in Cambodia during Khmer New Year!

Visak Bochea Day – This Buddhist holiday celebrates the birth of Buddha. This is a great opportunity to visit Angkor Wat, as it is filled to the brim with Buddhist Monks, nuns and followers paying tribute to Buddha.

Royal Ploughing Ceremony – Celebrated at the beginning of the sewing and planting season, this ceremony is used to predict the upcoming weather patterns. Traditionally, a field is ploughed three times then oxen are taken to seven golden trays containing sesame seeds, rice, corn, beans, grass, water and wine. The food and drink they consume is used to determine whether there will be good harvests, floods or droughts.

King Mother’s Birthday – This holiday celebrates the birth of Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, the mother of the current King. Many Cambodians use this day to pray for the health of the former Queen, who lost her husband to illness in 2012.

Constitution Day – This day marks the anniversary of the Cambodian government’s transition to a constitutional monarchy in 1993. It provides hope to Cambodians, particularly those who lived through the horrific Khmer Rouge regime.

Pchum Benh – Although technically lasting for fifteen days, the most popular time of this Buddhist ceremony is the last three days. Pchum Benh is a time for Buddhist Cambodians to honour their ancestors, and is a very family-oriented holiday. It involves many trips to the pagoda to offer food to Monks and to pray for the spirits of the deceased. This festival is known for educating younger people on respecting their elders.

As you can see, Cambodians proudly celebrate many holidays to mark their religion and history. If you are planning a trip there, make sure to check out a list of public holidays for the current year so you can hopefully take part in the celebrations!

Guide to the Angkor Temples

Angkor Archaeological Park is located in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It is said to be one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia, with millions of local and international tourists flocking there each year.

Angkor Archaeological Park features the remains of several capitals of the Khmer empire from the 9th to 15th centuries. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, with many steps being taken to conserve these glorious temples.

If you only had one day to spend at Angkor Archaeological Park, these are the temples we highly recommend you visit.

Bayon

Impressive from afar, and even more impressive up close. Bayon is known for its multiple smiling stone faces, which adorn the towers on its upper terrace. On the lower level you can spend a fair amount of time engrossing yourself in the two impressive sets of bas-reliefs, which show mythological and historical scenes in detail. This is a great temple to visit to end your trip to Angkor Wat on a high.

Ta Prohm 

Also known as the ‘Tomb Raider temple’, Ta Prohm is known for its jungle surroundings and trees growing out of the temple ruins. Originally known as Rajavihara (the monastery of the King), the temple was built by King Jayavarman VII to honour his family. The site was home to an impressive 12,500 people until its abandonment in the 15th century.

Srah Srang

Srah Srang was the Royal bathing pool that was built in the mid 10th century. Depending on what time of year you visit, it may be full of water that sparkles in the midday sun, or it could look like a container of broken, caked blush. Either way, it is worth a visit as you can sit and relax with a drink or a snack, enabling you to take a break from all the exercise you are doing during the day!

Angkor Wat

The iconic Angkor Wat was built under the reign of King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century. Originally dedicated to the Hindu God, Vishnu, it made the transition to a temple to worship Buddhism later in the same century.

From the outer enclosure, it is difficult to comprehend just how large this structure is. However, as you walk down the long path to the central structure, it begins to hit you just how magnificent and immense Angkor Wat truly is.

The upper level of Angkor Wat (also known as the Bakan Sanctuary), opens at 7:30am, so to avoid the queues it is best to get there early.

Banteay Kdei

Situated across from Srah Srang, this temple is often overlooked, but definitely shouldn’t be! Banteay Kdei, translated to ‘A Citadel of Chambers’, consists of four enclosures on one level. Many structures are fitted into a small space, meaning you could spend a good hour looking around! Banteay Kdei is currently undergoing renovation, so although you won’t be able to see it in its full glory, this monastic complex is definitely worth a visit.

If you do visit Angkor Archaeological Park, be sure to tag us in your photos!

Where to Shop Ethically in Siem Reap

When travelling through South East Asia, it can always be difficult to know where the souvenirs you purchase are made, and by whom. There is more of a shift nowadays towards ethical and responsible purchases, where both the maker and the consumer benefit. If you are travelling to Siem Reap, we have a few suggestions on where you can shop ethically. An added bonus is that you can purchase our handicrafts made by the sewing graduates from Human and Hope Association at all these wonderful shops!

Phare, the Cambodian Circus – Phare is a social enterprise that puts on nightly performances with live music, circus and often painting. The energy of the performances is incredible, with the circus performers having studied at Phare Ponleu Selpak, a performing arts school in Battambang. Their boutique store has an incredible range of ethically made products, and feature art from the graduates of the Visual and Applied Arts School at Phare Ponleu Selpak, liquor from Sombai and wooden carvings from Artisans d’Angkor. You can also pick up some Phare branded t-shirts, water bottles and music after you see the awe-inspiring show.

Peace Café – This vegetarian restaurant along the peaceful river in Siem Reap has a dedicated fair trade shop. Here you can buy items such as books, cards, pottery, children’s paintings, scarfs, clothing, skin care products and foods from organisations. By purchasing from the organisations who make these products, you are providing an income to the makers and also supporting the organisations with the profits.

Soria Moria Boutique Hotel – Located on the popular Wat Bo Road, Soria Moria is unique in that the local employees have become majority owners of the business. They are a social driven organisation that apply market-based strategies to achieve a social purpose, where part of their surpluses is invested back into the local Siem Reap Community. You will find a large range of ethically made products from various organisations in the lobby at Soria Moria, so make sure you stop by there for sunset happy hour between 5 pm and 7 pm.

Very Berry – Located in a cute little alley in Siem Reap town, Very Berry sells a varied range of products from local organisations and also the owner. Here you can find bamboo baskets, jams, hand-woven scarfs, coconut-oil based skin products and knitted toys. Very Berry runs on the concept of ‘natural and ethical’, so you definitely won’t be disappointed when visiting!

If you purchase our wonderful handicrafts in Cambodia (sold under the name Human and Hope Association), be sure to take a photo and tag us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter!

1 2 3