Our artisans and staffs are the heart of NET Effects and all that we do. For more than a decade our partner, Peace Handcrafts, has been training and providing fair wage jobs to those at risk. Now, NET Effects joins in a partnership with Peace Handcraft to build the market demand enabling us to train and employ more artisans and to ensure that all of the our staff has the dignity and economic freedom that a good job provides. The resilient, joyous and generous nature of our Cambodian staff permeates the making of all Net Effects bags and all that we do.
Give a woman good training, a supportive work environment, fair wages and the opportunity to build her own self-confidence and economic freedom and watch her soar. Watch her make powerful and positive decisions for herself and her family and create bright futures never dreamed possible.
Sopheap is the eldest daughter in a family of 5 children. Her father was killed during the war in 1975, and her mother struggled to take care of the children during the Khmer Rouge years and the following decades of poverty, war and political unrest. Sopheap’s mother tried her best to take care of the family but at times could not make ends meet. Sopheap lost her legs to polio and her brother lost his legs to a landmine. None of her siblings had the opportunity to study, as they all had to work to support the family.
Sopheap got married in 2001 with the expectation that she could rely on her husband for support. Instead, she was subjected to severe physical abuse by her husband. He left her when her daughter was just three months old. She was left to fend for herself and survive by selling things on the streets of Phnom Penh.
In 2002 she was picked up and sheltered by a charitable organization. She joined Peace Handicrafts in 2004 as a trainee and received a full wage during this time. Now she is able to help her daughter and hopes that her daughter will have a better life than the one she herself has had. “Life was unbearable then”, she recalls “I am proud of what I have achieved. I can now take care of myself and my daughter.”
Sophea was born in 1989 to a very poor family on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. She has two younger siblings. Her father fed the family with the small amount he earned as a cyclo driver. Her mother was half paralyzed by a stroke in 1997 and confined to a bed, putting additional burden on the poverty stricken family. Unable to support the family, Sophea’s father resorted to alcohol and physical abuse of the children to release his frustration. Sophea, then just 8 years old, was sent to work washing dishes at private homes and restaurants to help the family earn a little money. In 2005, after years of alcohol abuse, her father died.
Unable to cope with the situation her mother passed away 29 days later leaving the children with nothing to live on and a mountain of debts accumulated through the years of borrowing for medication and food. At age 16, Sophea became head of the family.
In 2006, Sophea was accepted to join a sewing course at Peace Handicrafts. In 2007 on completion of the course she joined the Peace Handicrafts team. She started as a machinist, and through determination and hard work, Sophea became one of the most outstanding staff. She was promoted to assistant production manager in 2009 and is now the quality control supervisor.
In June 2011, when asked about her ordeals, Sophea responded: “It is sad to recall my life and what I have been through. It was tough – very tough in fact. I have done what I think cannot be done to feed my brother and sister – now they are growing up and able to look after themselves. Both of them will get married and start their own families. I am so happy for them, and of course, for myself. Now I am looking forward to working for my own future.”
Pha Tha was just 3 years old when her father died. She is the youngest in her family and her mother struggled to bring up the family, surviving hand-to-mouth. At age 4, Pha Tha fell ill. Her mother could not afford to buy medication. The left side of her body became immobile and she could only move around the house with a walking stick or by crawling.
In her debt-ridden family, everyone had to work to survive. Her disability proved to be a significant burden to her family. She was often subjected to physical and verbal abuse from her siblings.
In 2002, a friend told her about Peace Handicrafts and offered to take her to Phnom Penh so she could apply for work training. With the limitations of her physical condition, and lack of experience, she was accepted to work with the quality control team. Peace Handicrafts management at the time was very skeptical about her ability and was not confident that she could work at all.
Tha is now one of Peace Handcrafts longest serving staff. She has proved to be a fighter and a worthy member of the team. Peace Handicrafts continues to offer her free shelter and fair trade wages. And she continues to help her family with as much financial support as possible.
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