Empowering Cambodian Women to Break Free of Poverty Through Sewing

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2017 Grant Recipient Update
Human & Hope Association (in partnership with World Relief Australia)

Cambodia is the poorest ASEAN country, with 35% of its population living below the poverty line. As is the case elsewhere, poverty disproportionately affects women, who face significant barriers accessing education and healthcare. However, evidence shows that providing access to vocational training can enable women to climb their way up the development ladder.

With this in mind, and with the generous support of 100 Women, the Human and Hope Association (HHA) engaged 24 Cambodian women in a training program in Siem Reap that aims to break this cycle of poverty. Here, women learn not only sewing and business skills, but also gain life skills, education about sustainable chemical-free farming, access to microfinance loans and a greater support network.

Some noteworthy achievements over the last 6 months include:

–  Six students have recently completed the sewing course, with three planning to apply for jobs and the other three to set up home businesses;
–  Six beginner students progressed to the advanced class whilst six villagers have been selected to join the new beginners class;
–  Five students received sewing machine loans, whilst the loan repayment rate remains at 100%;
–  More broadly, students are learning new life skills including leadership in family planning, women’s health, parenting and business management. Confidence has grown, domestic violence has reduced, and some student’s children are also enrolling to study with HHA.

Clearly the sewing classes are empowering these women to take control of their own lives resulting in positive change for their families and communities. In addition to this HHA have been able to expand the program into Pouk District, thus now covering two Districts in Cambodia.

The following is Savin’s heart-warming story shared by HHA, describing the difference the course has made for her after graduating from the sewing class earlier this year.

Savin, a mother of five sons, had to stop studying in grade five to take care of her ill mother. The main income her family relied on came from her husband’s job working as a Tuk Tuk driver.

Savin really likes sewing and believes it is a good skill for her as a woman. For a while, she learnt to sew with a friend, but after her friend became seriously ill she was forced to stop. However, keen to continue learning how to sew and after hearing about the sewing classes run by HHA from a friend who was an HHA graduate, Savin immediately registered for the classes.

After just three months, she applied for a sewing machine loan, enabling her to practice at home and earn some income through fixing clothes for her neighbour.

With her willingness and commitment, Savin completed the sewing class in January 2019. Armed with a full set of sewing and life skill lessons she now has a new hope in life, achieving her dream of opening a sewing shop at home and with it the start of earning a good income.

In Savin’s own words:

“When I decided to join sewing class, I wanted to set up a shop at home and now my dream came true. Thank so much HHA for provided me this opportunity.”

HHA and World Relief tell us that “wonderful progress is being made” and send their sincere thanks to 100 Women members for their contribution to this project. This is the first of the 2019 Grant updates and we anticipate the coming months will bring many more as we learn about the positive outcomes from the other 2017 grant recipients and the progress being made with the 2018 grant round recipients.

To learn more about the impact of Human and Hope Association’s work in Cambodia and that of our other wonderful grantees, please join us at the 100 Women 6th Birthday Celebration High Tea on 23 March 2019.

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