Women In Cambodia
“I am so happy and hopeful for the future” said Chomrong when she graduated from our expert sewing class at Human and Hope Association in February 2015. A mother of three, Chomrong was forced to drop out of public school in grade eight due to poverty in her family. She began working as a builder, earning just 88 cents a day. She eventually got married and moved from her rural village to Siem Reap, home to the famous Angkor Wat.
Her husband was also a builder, but they didn’t earn enough money to feed their family properly. As a result, their children would fall sick often and they would be pushed further into poverty because of the hospital fees.
In 2014, Chomrong was staying at her home, watching over her children when she was approached by a staff member from Human and Hope Association, a grassroots charity that aims to empower Cambodians to move out of poverty with knowledge and skills.
He explained the sewing program to Chomrong, and given she had wanted to study sewing since she was a child, Chomrong agreed to join our program. Not only did she learn how to sew, she also studied life skills and was more confident to stand up to her husband.
Her son was enrolled into our preschool program, learning Khmer, hygiene and good habits, while her daughter studied English in addition to her public school education. Chomrong took a loan to buy a sewing machine through our microfinance program and set up her own business at her home. She began to be well-known in her village for her high quality work. For that reason, we also hired Chomrong to be our seamstress, giving her an extra source of income, ongoing support and development, and education opportunities for her three children.
This has resulted in respect from her husband, and a happier family life. “I had a problem with my husband very often, but after I can earn money he respects me and life is easier for us.”
Earlier this year Chomrong was hired to be our part-time sewing teacher, providing her with a higher salary and the training to be a great teacher. Chomrong, who is currently building a solid house to replace her current wooden palm leaf house, says “I am very happy to be a sewing teacher. I was so scared at first, but I am happy to have employment and the support of HHA. I hope to help others move their way out of poverty, like myself.”
Chomrong’s children have advanced through our education programs at Human and Hope, and have been moving ahead at public school thanks to our remedial classes.They are much more confident and well-behaved, something which Chomrong credits to their caring teachers.
Chomrong is just one example of a life that has been changed thanks to Human and Hope Association. We have a holistic approach to development, which means we help to lift whole families out of poverty.
Our education programs, aimed at children, consist of English and Khmer language classes, preschool, art class and library. Our community projects involve community workshops that address social issues, university scholarships, a farming program, microfinance loans and outreach. And of course, our sewing program educates women not just on sewing, but on business skills, too, so they have the necessary knowledge and opportunities to start their own businesses.
If you wanted support Chomrong and Human and Hope Association at the same time, we have just launched a crowdfunding campaign, Elephants for Education. By purchasing an elephant made by a Chomrong and our other seamstresses at Human and Hope Association, you are not only providing them with an income, you are also educating Cambodian children with the profits. Please pledge today.
About the Author
Sally Hetherington is an Australian who is passionate about empowerment and sustainability in developing countries. She has spent the past five years living in Cambodia, and recently left Human and Hope Association to be entirely Khmer operated. She is committed to fundraising for their projects so more Cambodians can break the poverty cycle.