» Artisan’s stories
At the Artisans’ Association of Cambodia (AAC), we like to focus on the people behind the products – people from whose hands have come intricate, beautiful handicrafts.
These are just a few of their stories…
Name: Keo Sarun
Organization: Stung Treng Women’s Development Center (SWDC)
When 22-year old Keo Sarun first began working at the Stung Treng Women’s Development Center (SWDC), she was not sure she would be staying for long.
“I found it very difficult as I had never done any work like this before,” Sarun recalls about her first 6-months working as a silk weaver at Stung Treng Women’s Development Center (SWDC) vocational training center in Stung Treng Province. “The silk kept breaking and I didn’t think I would complete my training and be given a job.”
Five years since completing her training at the local humanitarian NGO, Sarun now excels at weaving, having recently been given the responsibility for training other weavers at the center.
“I love weaving and I love my job,” she exclaims. “I particularly enjoy having so many friends here because before I had to work on my own and had very few friends, which was very hard.”
Sarun’s situation has changed in many ways over the past five years. Before arriving at SWDC, she earned a meager income working in the rice fields during the rainy season and planting vegetables and catching fish during the dry season. She also lacked the confidence in herself that learning new skills, including English and IT, have given her.
But perhaps the most important thing about Sarun’s work is that she can now earn enough to help support her family, something that has always been a challenge for her parents and twelve brothers and sisters. Right now, there is very little that Sarun would want to change about her life. As she explains: “When I was working in the rice fields, I was always thinking about how I might get a job and earn enough for myself and for my family.”
“Since coming to SWDC, my dreams have finally come true,” she adds.
Name: Nom Yaun
Organization: Rehab Craft Cambodia
In a country where an estimated 3% of the population is disabled, Nom Yaun is reluctant to see herself as a victim. The 39-year-old’s life was turned upside down when she accidentally trod on a hidden landmine in the mountains of Kampot Province over 20 years ago.
“After the accident, it was hard to work and hard to dance,” Yaun recalls. “A lot of the time I just stayed inside the house.”
Yaun tried to make the best of her circumstances, opting to weave baskets from home for sale at the local market. But she remained frustrated at her inability to leave home and develop new skills that would help her earn an income to support the family.
She eventually decided to move to Phnom Penh to train as a sewer at one of the city’s many textile training centers. During her time at the center, she heard good reports about a small Cambodian NGO that was looking to hire a team of sewers to extend its range of handmade products.
Yaun applied for the post at Rehab Craft Cambodia and was successful, the first of many positive changes in her life. “I know that life is much better for me now,” Yaun says, having spent the past ten years developing her skills at Rehab Craft as a sewer and supervisor of the production team. “I am not discriminated against here like I was when I stayed at home.”