Nestled on a small mountainside, in Northwest Cambodia sits a little village called, Camp51.
Camp51 is a community comprised of Cambodian military families struggling each and every day against the grips of poverty. Despite the fact that they are military families, they live well below the poverty line. The average military service person only makes $50 per month. This is not even close to enough for their families to survive. Many times, the families are separated in order to make enough money… Some seek employment in Thailand nearby. Some venture to other parts of the country to send money home to their loved ones. And, there is always the looming risk of human trafficking. Our goal, in this new community, is to continue to provide jobs in order to keep these military families together.
In the summer of 2012, the journey began. In just a few short months, we knew that this village would be the next future site for 3seams! In January of 2013, all funds were officially raised to start the build of our facility there. Just a few months later, in May (2013), we were able to launch our new seamstress program, freedom51.
The name… freedom51 came to us for a few reasons. Seeing that they live in a community named Camp51, we wanted to keep a piece of that location included in our program’s name.Freedom seemed to be the perfect depiction of what we want to offer to these families. Freedom from hunger, freedom from disease, freedom from homelessness, freedom from slavery, freedom to obtain an education, and if they so choose, the opportunity to learn what freedom in Christ really means.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galations 5:1
Our original three women are doing a fabulous job and it has been a true privilege to get to know them and their families. We look forward, in the weeks and months and years to come, to adding many more women to this program!
In 1975, the Kingdom of Cambodia was overrun by the Khmer Rouge regime. The next four years of their history was full of terror and destruction that led to the killing if nearly 2 million Khmai people. The Khmer Rouge was determined to make the Kingdom of Cambodia an agrarian society…without any social institutions…totally and completely Communist. Their goal was to eliminate anybody or anything that would stand in their way…starting with all intellectuals, businessmen, those of religious views, and all foreigners. During those four years, the Khmai people were forced into work camps infested with disease. Death plagued the country as massacres occurred and mass graves were filled. 40 years later, the people of Cambodia are still desperately working to reclaim their lives. Once liberated from the Khmer Rouge by the Vietnamese, Cambodia was left ravaged and steeped in poverty.
The Khmai people are a resilient and strong people group. They continue to fight for survival each and every day. They are a hard-working people that will capture you with their smiles!
How are 3seams artisans paid?!?
Not only are jobs limited in the developing world, but those that do exist seldom pay enough for a family to survive on. Our goal, in each program that we set up, is to create an opportunity for individuals to make enough money, through one job, to support their family. How do we go about the numbers?
- The first question we find the answer to is, “What is the average daily wage in a textile factory?”
- In Cambodia, the answer to this question is approximately $3.50…some receive as low as $2.50/day and some receive as much as $4/day. If you take the time to do the math on these numbers, factory workers are bringing home as little as $50/month and a maximum of $80/month. Neither of these numbers will support a family.
OUR GOAL… We strive to create an opportunity for our artisans to have the ability to make 2-3 times that average daily wage!
- As our artisans are paid per piece that they finish, we carefully figure out how many of each piece could be made in a 6-8 hour day. From this number we are able to price the item.
- Once the prices are set, it is up to each individual as to how many hours they choose to work and how quickly they are able to create a piece.
Our women in Cambodia have chosen to work 10-15 hours per week. They come in 2-3 hours each morning and then head home to cook, clean, and take care of their babies. Despite the limited hours, each of them is bringing home enough money to truly make a difference! One was actually able to achieve 2x the factory wage in January (2014).
Meet Deedra Bingham!
Deedra is a full-time missionary with Cadence International and has been living in Cambodia since 2011. Deedra is instrumental in our freedom51 program as she visits our program and works with the ladies each week. Deedra is a woman full of JOY! We are incredibly blessed to have her on this journey with us!
Meet Bopha Him!
Bopha is not only our translator, but is now starting to take over some of the administrative work that goes along with freedom51 in country. We are so blessed to have her as a part of our team. Bopha grew up in Cambodia and has a life story full of God’s faithfulness. She is an amazing individual that not only brings clarity to what we are doing on the ground, but also great happiness.
Please take a moment to stop by our 3seams ONLINE STORE to check out the fabulous products that the ladies at freedom51 are making.
Growth of this program is dependent upon people like you! Please consider a tax-deductible donation today in order to help us continue to bring more and more families out of the grips of poverty and into a life FREE FROM OPPRESSION!