|In 2010 we began offering sewing classes to local entrepreneurs in Banteay Srey. Many women were interested in learning the trait, but obstacles prevented them from participating, in particular the costs of machines and courses. If you want to learn sewing, you need to pay to study with any experienced sewer. This is very expensive and unaffordable for most. While it would be a good investment, it is simply out of reach. In order to support these entrepenuers, our school decided to hire a well-respected sewer, Sreynoun, who has been sewing for over twenty years in Banteay Srey and is highly regarded by the entire community. She serves as the instructor and manages all aspects of the program, receiving support from our manager who purchases materials and commissions products.|
To date we have seen 16 women graduate from one of the four courses. Most of these women are living in Banteay Srey and have set-up their own businesses. Our next course will select women from outside of Banteay Srey (they must live at least 100km from the school) who will study and then return to their homelands to set-up their own businesses.
We are still developing a sewing cooperative, supporting graduates of the school. They are currently making a variety of products we hope to sell to international guests at our guesthouse. To date they have sold over 80 aprons to customers in the United States, earning them a shared profit of $1500.
We are currenlty in negotiations with Madame Ducktailors - an Australian social enterprise which creates high end clothing for women that is sewn by women in Cambodia. We hope to start creating samples in summer 2013 and, if chosen, will begin full-time production in 2014.
For questions on the sewing cooperative, email email@example.com
|My name is Srey Neang Khum and I am 18 years old. I live in Banteay Srey with my parents and have six siblings. I never finished school because I couldn’t afford school supplies or a bicycle to get there. Before I studied sewing, I had no job because of my lack of education so I simply stayed at home and helped clean.
I took the sewing course at Bridge of Life School because I wanted to have my own profession that I can use to make my own money, get married, and have a healthy family in the future.
|I am Heng Chanly and I am 24 years old. I live in Phum Pika village in Banteay Srey with my sixty-five year old mother. I got married and have a two-year-old daughter, but unfortunately I got a divorce because my husband was an alcoholic. Before I worked as a farmer and spent most of my time working in the field. My living standard is lower than my neighbors because I need to support my mother and daughter. I learned sewing so that I can bring in more money and change my life and my daughter’s life.||I am Vat Phally and I am about 35 years old. I have eight siblings that all live in one house. I was born in Phum Sala Korkos but later moved to Banteay Srey. I stopped learning in 2nd grade because there was a sporadic fighting and they ransacked my village. The reason I wanted to learn sewing was to have my own business and work from home. Learning sewing costs a lot of money that I couldn’t afford, but the free school allowed me to learn it and they generously donated my sewing machine as well.|
|I am Lai Son and I have five family members. I am homeless so now I live with a friend near the school. The rest of my family has settled on my aunt’s land. To learn sewing was my ambition, but I couldn’t afford enough food, let alone a sewing course. With Bridge of Life School I had the chance to take the course free of charge. It has already helped a lot. I have a unique skill and use it to earn decent money for myself and my two year old daughter.||My name is Son Lin. I live in Banteay Srey with eight family members. I have never attended public nor private school and never learned any real skills. Before I spent most of my time at home looking after my younger brothers and sisters. I was astonished to hear there was a free sewing program and I came to sign-up on the first day. So far I have learned a lot of skills and everyday I practice and improve. I am also grateful Americans buy our products and pay us generously.||I am Yeam Yan. I live across from the school. I am married and have a two years old daughter. I am a good housewife, and my husband is a farmer. We don’t have much land but make enough money to survive selling vegetables. I wanted to help my husband make a little more income, so I attended the sewing class and graduated last year. My life is already easier as I can sew my own clothes for my family and make products for others. I also want to thank the donor who paid for my machine.|