As mentioned in previous posts about my time in Cambodia last year, I had the chance to see some really great projects in action. One such project is Daughters, a project for young women located just outside of Phnom Penh and run by the Center for Global Impact. They are doing some great things in providing training and opportunity for work and personal growth for women who may not otherwise have the opportunity. Here is what the CGI website has to say about the project:
CGIDaughters is a division of Center For Global Impact, a U.S. faith-based relief and development organization. It is a two-year residential program. We offer life-skills training, education, health care, money management and professional seamstress training all through the lens of Jesus Christ. Our product line is handmade with fair-trade principles.
I had a great time visiting the project on a few different days. My friends are involved in it on many levels, so I was able to experience the project in a variety of ways. From running errands for fabric and picking up labels for purses to playing a role in English classes and seeing my friend, Katy, lead them in Bible study. I also saw them meet their goal of making 100 clutch purses to receive a reward of Dairy Queen ice cream. It was great motivation for them! CGI is doing some great things to help women succeed in Cambodia!
When I was in Cambodia this past summer, I was able to visit the workshop of byTavi outside Phnom Penh. It was really fun for me to be there and to meet Tavi, since I had attended a trunk show of byTavi products and have since worn an ID card holder made by one of these women everyday at work. Rather than putting it in my own words, I’ll share the Center for Global Impact‘s description of this successful project:
A faith-based micro-enterprise initiative of Center for Global Impact (CGI), byTavi teaches at-risk, impoverished women how to sew handbags and other accessories. Employed by CGI, the women receive fair wages while their products are marketed internationally.
Through this program these women have grown in confidence and joy as they provide for their families in a healthy way. In addition to learning marketable skills, these women are also surrounded by the love of Christ through CGI’s trusted Cambodian Management Team and other international partners.
Founded in 2009 by CGI’s president Chris Alexander and a meek woman by the name of Tavi, this program provides a unique opportunity to empower the poor and prevent human trafficking.
Please click over to the above links to learn more about what Center for Global Impact is doing in Cambodia to help women succeed. Here are some photos from the byTavi workshop. Enjoy!
While I was visiting Battambang and the Green Mango Cafe & Bakery, I had the chance to go on the infamous “bamboo train” outside the city. Alan and many of the Green Mango girls went along with me (Katy decided to sit that one out with her baby in utero in mind). The bamboo train uses old railroad tracks that were used for trains during the time of the Khmer Rouge on tracks left by the French. According to my Lonely Planet book, the rail line may be upgraded in the future and the bamboo train may lose it’s usefulness. However, for the time being, many 3 meter long wooden frames covered with bamboo and resting on two barbell-like bogies make the trip up and down the rickety tracks daily. One bogie is connected by fan belts to a gasoline engine. You can fit about 10 people on the bamboo frame and take a 15 km/h ride down the tracks (though I’m sure they’ve managed to fit many more). The best part is that it’s so easy to take apart, so when you run into a group coming the other way, one group can just get up and take the car off the tracks to allow the others to pass. You can thank Lonely Planet for that detailed explanation of the train. 🙂 It felt like a very rustic amusement park ride to me.
We had quite an adventure on our ride down and back up the tracks. I enjoyed the gorgeous Cambodian countryside until we saw a group stopping up ahead. We slowed down to find a few “cars” disembarking on a bridge. It turns out it was a wedding party that stopped on the bridge for a photo shoot among the rice fields. It seemed they were a bit surprised to see a group of Cambodian girls in green shirts and two Americans on a car come barreling through, but they were quick to step out of our way to allow us to continue our journey. We broke up our trip with a stop at a roadside rest stop where we could buy treats and scarves and check out a brick-making kiln. We then headed back to where we came from, with a stop on a bridge to get some photos of the breath-taking view of the green rice-field expanse. I haven’t figured out how to post the video I took of the ride, but I hope you enjoy the photos!
Click here to see the rest of my Cambodia posts in succession.
You may remember these friends as the great people who helped show me around the beautiful country of Cambodia this past summer, from Angkor Wat to Battambang to Phnom Penh and Kep (photos of that are still to come). Well, their family has since grown from this back in June:
They came home to the U.S. for Christmas and I had a great time catching up with them on a chilly Indianapolis day. The weather didn’t cooperate much for an outdoor photoshoot, but we had fun nonetheless. 🙂
Here are a few more fun shots from our time at the beginning of this month. Enjoy!
Mass Ave Toys was a great place to warm up and check out some fun toys. This little guy was very intent in checking out the world, with his fingers getting pretty close to pointing to the place where he was born… it’s like he knew. 🙂
The day after I went up the mountain to the Killing Caves outside Battambang, I was able to visit the Battambang market with a kind woman from the Green Mango Cafe & Bakery on her daily market run. She has a very efficient system to her market run, which includes visiting regular vendors who she knows and having the Tuk Tuk driver appropriately parked and ready to come assist in retrieving the good when they’re ready. She has friends with whom she leaves some of her buys to pick up on the way out, so she doesn’t have to carry everything around with her. I appreciated her willingness to slow down a bit so I could capture some of the many sights of the market with my camera. Please note that if you don’t enjoy the sight of raw meat, you may not want to proceed to some of the final photos… don’t say I didn’t warn you! 🙂
First, a photo of the lovely, kind woman who took me to the mountain and allowed me to tag along with her at the market the next day:
As promised, it’s time to share about the great things happening in Cambodia that I was able to see this past June and July when I visited. (Click here to see the previous posts from my trip, in succession.)
The Center for Global Impact has a fantastic thing going on in the city of Battambang in northern Cambodia. Their website describes it well, so I’ll quote them here: “The Culinary Training Center (CTC) is the largest project undertaken by CGI to date. Students are enrolled in a two-year training program that will prepare them to enter into the most distinguished kitchens in Cambodia. The CTC plays a significant role in establishing a successful strategy for developing future employment opportunities for orphans, at-risk, and formerly trafficked women .”
My friends, Katy and Alan, and I were able to spend a few days in Battambang seeing The Green Mango Cafe & Bakery in action. It was so fun to hang out with the head chef and teacher, Ryana, and get to know the girls in the school a bit. During those days, we ate a lot and I had a fun adventure at the market and on a bamboo train that I’ll post about in the future. The food was SO delicious and the atmosphere was very comfortable. It was fun to see how much business they were getting after the few short months they had been open. Check out their website here.
I hope you enjoy a look at this great project that is providing work for some wonderful young women in Cambodia! Oh, and since you probably can’t stop by for a food sampling anytime soon, please check out the Green Mango Cafe & Bakery Cookbook available for purchase here. You won’t regret it!
As promised, this is the last post about the negative things I saw in Cambodia, with many beautiful and hopeful posts coming soon about all the great things happening there. 🙂
As I’ve mentioned before (click here to see previous posts), I was a bit surprised to find that Cambodia wasn’t as much like Thailand as I’d expected it to be. There are a lot of similarities, but I didn’t expect Cambodia to be as underdeveloped as it appeared to me. After learning about the effects of the Khmer Rouge’s rule on the country in the 70’s, it made more sense to me. Cambodia has had a lot to overcome.
Below are some photos of some living conditions I was able to see in Phnom Penh. It is known that some young women from this neighborhood have been sold into prostitution to help earn money for their family. I was able to see some organizations that are working with people from this exact neighborhood, so that was encouraging. I’ll be posting about that organization soon. This web page explains Cambodia’s poverty situation in an understandable way (over 30% of Cambodians live below the poverty line). The rural areas are even more affected by poverty as their traditional agricultural methods that don’t produce for quick profit.
Another sad part of Cambodia’s story is its high rate of human trafficking. Last fall, my friend led a book study on the book Not For Sale by David Batstone. This book is very eye-opening to the problem of present-day human slavery all over the world. The projects I visited, associated with the Center for Global Impact, and many others are working to fight against this problem. Specifically in Cambodia, there is a problem with children being sold into prostitution. Of Cambodia’s 15,000 prostitutes, 35% are under the age of 16 (click here for the source of this statistic and more information). Here are some of the sights I saw that opened my eyes to this heart-breaking problem.
So, poverty and young women being sold into prostitution… sorry about the downer post. However, there’s good news! Organizations like Center for Global Impact, Hagar International, International Justice Mission, and many others are working to both help prevent and rescue women from this modern day slavery. Just last night I heard an amazing woman, Somaly Mam, speak here in Indianapolis about her own experience of being sold in Cambodia’s sex trade as a little girl and now she’s helping save and assist in the recovery of thousands of girls. Learn more about her organization by clicking here or read her book, The Road of Lost Innocence. Stay tuned for more photos of beautiful Cambodia and the great things going on there.