By Emily Martin
Buying a ticket to see a Phare show instantly helps our mission to support the development of the circus artists and financially support the NGO School, Phare Ponleu Selpak which successfully transforms Cambodian’s youth’s lives through art and their social support services.
Of course there are more ways Phare can help you be a ‘responsible traveller’ and doing a bit of souvenir and present shopping at Phare Boutique is one. The little shop not only helps Phare fine-arts students sell their work, but it offers a platform for other local artists, craftsmen and NGO’s to sell their wares.
Human and Hope Association (HHA), an NGO in Siem Reap, is the newest addition to the selection on offer.
HHA aims to empower Cambodians to create sustainable futures through a holistic approach to development which includes education, vocational training and community support projects.
Sally Hetherigton is Operations Manager at HHA and has been working with the organization since close to its beginning. “HHA was initially a two-hour an evening school which began in 2011 when a group of villagers saw an absence of English education in their commune. These villagers volunteered to teach English at a pagoda in their spare time, and were occasionally assisted by foreign volunteers. In October 2012 I started working there as Operations Manager, and we overhauled the organization. First came registering it as an NGO, then came hiring the best volunteers full time, and of course, initiating many projects as part of our holistic approach to development.”
“Our programs are for Khmers, by Khmers. Apart from myself, all our staff are Khmers who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is so important, as for this country to develop we need the locals to be on the ground empowering villagers.”
The staff use their own stories and journeys to be good role models for villagers and show them that direct aid isn’t the way out of poverty; hard work through education and training is. “If we just gave our villagers free rice, they would become dependent on it and also lack motivation to go out and earn money for their rice. Instead, by providing training and knowledge which enables them to earn money to buy rice themselves, they have a sense of pride and achievement, and it is much more sustainable than an NGO just giving them supplies.”
Phare Boutique has just been added to the list of organisations helping support this group by selling their products. The beautiful and original pieces are made by HHA’s current and graduated sewing students. Through these sales HHA is able to:
- Enable their graduated sewing students to earn an income
- Raise much-needed funds for the organization and contribute towards their sustainability
- Raise awareness of HHA
- Showcase just how talented their students are, as well as the staff who teach the skills!
“In each class we hire one to two of our best students (best meaning both their sewing quality and attitude) to become seamstresses and make our products at their homes. Working at home is perfect for our seamstresses, as they can watch over their children and still commit to their responsibilities to their families. The money they have made from us so far has enabled our seamstresses to improve the standard of their homes, pay for school fees for their children and be used as leverage to have more of a say in their homes.”
So why buy products, like these made by HHA and other local artists?
“There are thousands of market stalls in Cambodia, but amongst those market stalls, only a small percentage of products are made in Cambodia and by people who receive fair wages. When visitors buy responsibly, they are supporting local NGO’s and local people to ensure they can have a good quality of living. It also shows other market sellers that they should be supporting locally made products which will help their community. “
You can purchase HHA products at Phare Boutique and if you aren’t in Cambodia but are interested in some of the products then you’re in luck. Several Rotary clubs in Australia and New Zealand sell HHA products at market stalls. Additionally, they also launched an online store in February which sells their beautiful products (and creative writing books by their students) to their Australian supporters.
* Human Hope Associaton doesn’t accept volunteers… and here’s why; http://www.humanandhopeassociation.org/thanks-for-your- generous-offer-however/.
View some case studies of how Human and Hope Association has helped transform the lives of a number of Cambodians.
Read more about Phare Boutique
We’re passionate about responsible tourism and have been sharing with you many ways YOU can travel responsibly…