Our sewing program in Cambodia targets the poorest in our community who are struggling to make ends meet. We recruit our students by spending weeks conducting assessments and determining the suitability of people to our program.

Our students study in the sewing program for three hours a day, five days a week. They take care of a garden at Human and Hope Association and receive rice and vegetables as a stipend for studying so we can ensure their families are well-fed. On Fridays, they study life skills and learn about topics such as domestic violence, marriage laws, anger management, job skills and hygiene.

Over the course of ten months they learn the following sewing lessons:

Beginner Advanced
How to use a sewing machine Cushion cover
How to use different stitches Shopping bag
Pencil case School girl skirt (long)
School boy shirt Traditional man’s shirt
School boy shorts Tailored women’s shirt
School girl shirt Women’s short skirt
School girl skirt Woman’s shirt
Women’s shirt Men’s shirt
Men’s shirt Men’s trousers
Traditional skirt Traditional ceremony top
Men’s trousers

After studying in the sewing program for three months our students have the opportunity to take out a microfinance loan with us. They purchase a machine to practice their lessons at home and begin fixing and making clothes for their neighbours. They begin repayments six months after first receiving the machine so we can ensure they are confident in their ability and are not pressured to pay back their loans straight away.

Upon graduating, armed with a diverse set of skills, our students seek employment in sewing shops, run sewing businesses from their homes or are hired by us to make products for a fair wage. We continue to provide workshops and refresher lessons for them every month for six months after they graduate.

Women in Cambodia face many issues, particularly with gender equality and roles. This sewing program is incredibly empowering for the women who study as they learn that they have the ability to stand on their own two feet, and a voice to stand up for their rights. Our sewing program not only allows women to learn a skill and earn a wage, but it also gives the students confidence and promotes independence. Furthermore, where possible, we try to involve the men in their families in our domestic violence workshops and enrol their children in our education programs.

8When Saney was in her early 20s, she dreamed of being a seamstress. However, for someone living in poverty and only having enough food to eat twice a day, this dream was out of reach for her. When she was 28 years old, Saney’s neighbour told her about a new sewing program at an NGO she had just graduated from. Eager to study, Saney asked her husband for permission. He said no. She asked again. He said no. She continued to persist until her husband eventually agreed for her to study in the sewing program at Human and Hope Association.

After studying for just six weeks in the program, Saney asked to borrow a machine so she could start her own business. She was already earning $1.50USD a day as a beginner student. Given her excellent quality and productivity, we hired Saney to be a seamstress and to help launch our sewing business. We enrolled her daughter in English classes at HHA, and given she also struggled with learning her native language at public school, we started teaching her Khmer language, too.

Saney graduated from our sewing program in October 2014. She now has a successful business at her home, and her income has increased significantly. She has now moved out of the poverty bracket and has built a new house.

“My husband respects me now and often comments that I can earn much more money than him. My future is much brighter because of HHA.”

It costs $90 a month to provide sewing training to a woman. Become a Sewing Champion today!