Thom lives in a village about an hour and a half from Phnom Penh. She comes from a village and family steeped in generations of silk weavers. At 12 years old she left school to start working alongside her mother and grandmother. She loves making silk. She loves the process of dyeing the silk, transferring the thread onto bobbins, setting the loom frame, and then weaving and finishing the silk product. She loves the feel of the thread in her hands. And she’s proud of the beautiful end products.
Today she struggles with two challenges facing the survival of her village tradition of silk making.
The first is the rapid growth of garment factories. They offer young women a minimal but secure wage drawing them away from their homes and families. They spend long hours in the factories, transported to and fro standing like cattle in the back of open roof trucks.
Secondly, the production of machine-made garments at lower prices, undercut the prices of local sellers and flood the local and overseas markets with cheap items made on the back of cheap labour.
Thom is working to restore the socioeconomic dignity of the women in her village. She has started a small co-op, encouraging the women to work together on orders, quality control and selling. Her market is largely the Phnom Penh stores and wholesalers who can then market and sell to overseas buyers.
We are part of her story.
But, She makes her future.