- Cambodia is located in Southeast Asia, bordered by Thailand and Laos on the north and Vietnam on the east and south.
- With a population of over 15 million, Cambodia is the 70th most populous country in the world.
- Today 30% of the population still live below the poverty line (earning less than $1.25 per day).
- Many people, especially in rural areas, remain in poverty due to food shortages and lack of work opportunities.
- More than 50% of Cambodia's population is under the age of 25 and many lack education and productive skill to compete in the limited economy.
What We're Doing
Trades of Hope is partnering with these women in Cambodia who have been the victims of a heart wrenching and awful practice called “acid attack”, which is a form of revenge that illustrates an undercurrent of violence that courses through this wounded society. These women are being empowered by giving them the opportunity to create these beautiful handicrafts that are providing a sustainable business for them which is keeping their families together. This group has given these Artisans a renewed hope and has restored their confidence and value! These women are given the gift of sustainable business that not only affects one person, but also whole communities for generations to come!
Letters from Artisans
From Jariya, a Cambodian artisan:
"My name is Jariya. One day someone flung a container of acid in my face. It burned my face, and ran down my body, dissolving both my skin and my life. The excruciating extensive burns threatened to take my life for months, and since then I have had to endure numerous surgeries to attempt to re-make my features/face to be normal again. I now have to live with the scarring of my face and body, and also with the scarring on my heart. I have consistently been the subject of mockery, hatred, rejection and curiosity, but rarely the subject of compassion or help. I am gradually trying to rebuild my life and to make a future for myself, but the only thing that gives me the courage to do that is that I know that I am not alone, and that I may be able to do something to help others. I am starting this small business to make goods by hand so that other women in my condition, many of whom are left to raise their children on their own, can have the chance to earn their own living in safety and some measure of self-respect."
From a missionary who works with our artisans:
"I think the best way to explain what happened to these women is to think about a grief we have. Usually we want to share our tragedy, our loss only with those with whom we choose. If we have been raped, or lost a loved one, or our heart has been broken, we usually are very careful about who we share this with. But for these women, their greatest tragedy, their life-altering loss, is written on their faces. So for them to show their faces is not just a matter of someone else seeing their physical scars; it is exposing this most personal tragedy to the eyes of everyone - the kind and understanding, and also the callous and uncaring, as well as the careless and oblivious. We would be deeply affected were we to walk about wearing t-shirts that said 'grieving mother', 'rape victim', 'abandoned wife', 'unwanted child', 'unemployed father'. The scars on these women's faces are like those t-shirts, but they can't be taken off. Everywhere they go, they are seen only through the lens of this life-shattering event; it becomes their identity, so they can't just be another shopper in the market, or student in a class, or rider on a bus, or pedestrian on the street, or customer in the bank, or patient in the doctor's office. Always this part of their identity is emblazoned on their faces.
They each tell themselves that this wouldn't have happened were they not poor, or had they had a father who protected them, or had they had more personal value. So the scarring is not just an exposure of the shame of the event, but the exposure of who they are that such a thing could have happened to them. It 'proves' that they are somehow worthless, expendable, unloved, unvalued."