As mentioned previously, the rice harvest is in full swing so the builders are busy in the fields for at least another week. However there is some progress as you can see, the walls are going up slowly and once the harvest is over I expect to see a flurry of activity and the completion in January or early February. So while construction is under way, we’re busy trying to find ways we can create employment once the girls (and some boys) have learned to use the sewing machines.
One idea is to take in outworking contracts – this is common in Cambodia but is usually done on an individual basis and not very organised. If the school can coordinate an outworker contract for the village then mothers and older sisters can help support younger siblings through school in a practical way. Firstly by being able to stay at home, keep the family together while earning a fair salary and secondly by contributing to the income for the school, thus making it sustainable for the long term good of the community. If we did this we would set up micro loans for the outworker’s machines and offer adult education and training in the school in the evenings.
Another idea is to create our own brand of jeans. Jeans are universally worn here but there isn’t a Cambodian brand and usually they are bought from Thailand. Despite the horrendous recent past Cambodians are very patriotic and I think if we could come up with good quality fabric and some cool marketing ideas we could develop a strong national brand – to be worn as a sort of patriotic symbol…Anyway its work in progress, so lets see.
To keep the workshop creative and interesting for the students we will also be creating souvenirs and gifts for sale made out of recycled materials. I have some ideas which will include the boys as well so one item will be made with cooperation of several students to encourage community spirit and shared goals – a thing which is severely lacking outside of family here.
During my recent visit to the school, the girls were especially excited about the sewing workshop – the idea that they may not have to leave home for a lifetime working in a sweatshop in another country is the answer to their wildest dreams, so please be assured your support really is going to change lives.