Organisation: World Relief Australia in partnership with Human and Hope Association.

Project: Upskilling Women for Empowered Living: Sewing Training Courses, Life Skills Classes and Mentoring in Cambodia

Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Requested Amount: $17,338 from a total project cost of $27,279.

This grant will be used to fund sewing teachers, food packs, lesson supplies and face mask materials.

Overview: The Upskilling Project aims to lift women and their families in rural Cambodia out of poverty through a sewing, business and life skills training program.


Who is the organisation and what is their mission?

World Relief Australia provides humanitarian assistance and facilitates community development initiatives in more than 50 developing countries. Their mission is to relieve poverty, suffering, distress and misfortune experienced by disadvantaged persons regardless of age, gender, ethnic background or religion.

Human and Hope Association’s vision is a world where communities are built through locally driven initiatives. Human and Hope pursues this vision by raising awareness in Australia about the unintended consequences of voluntourism, and through support of a grassroots community centre in Cambodia.


What is the project that the 100 Women grant will support?

The Upskilling Project provides sewing training, education and support to women from low-income communities in rural Siem Reap, Cambodia, to move the women and their families out of poverty.

The women attend sewing courses five days a week over 12 months, and receive mentoring, business training and other support. In addition to general sewing lessons, the women will learn how to produce 5,000 facemasks within their first month of classes, to be distributed to the local community.  Daily food packs will be provided to students, to support their families and address food insecurity. Seeds and fertiliser will also be provided, to assist students to start their own gardens at home and seek to increase food security in the long term.


Who is the project for? Who else will benefit?

The project aims to benefit 12 women who have lost their jobs in the tourism industry because of the economic impacts of COVID-19. Benefits are also anticipated to extend to about ten villagers for every woman trained, in addition to the 5,000 face masks produced by the women for their local community.


Why is the project needed?

Cambodia’s tourism industry has been severely impacted by COVID-19, creating a high level of unemployment. Siem Reap is particularly affected, given its heavy dependence on tourism as the location of the World Heritage-listed Angkor Archaeological Park. According to the United Nations Development Programme, 35 per cent of Cambodians lived in poverty prior to COVID-19, and many more Cambodians may slip into poverty due to the pandemic.


Why is the solution the best answer to the identified need or opportunity?

Human and Hope Association staff are all Cambodian; they live locally and are familiar with the local community and culture.

Since it was established in 2013, the Human and Hope sewing program has demonstrated success, including: 68 graduates, with 31 gaining employment and 37 setting up their own businesses after completing the program; 100 per cent of participants have reported a reduction in domestic violence because of the program; 27 students have moved out of poverty, and continue to remain out after one year; and 16 graduates have built a new home with income generated using skills developed as a result of the program.


What impact is planned to occur as a result of the project?

The project aims to raise 12 women and their families out of poverty by upskilling them. Anticipated impacts include:

  • improved standards of living for participants and their families;
  • increased food security for participants and their families;
  • reduction in domestic violence experienced by participants;
  • increased children in education;
  • increased local income;
  • changed community perceptions of educated women; and
  • greater female community participation.


Are there any notable partners or collaborators?

Students participating in Human and Hope’s sewing program also take part in workshops and events for women and girls run by the Women’s Resource Center, on themes such as ending of violence against women and girls.

Human and Hope Association has a continuing grant from the Sumar Lakhani Foundation. These funds provide microfinance loans to allow students to purchase sewing machines.




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