Women's International Group Christmas Sale

Yesterday was the annual Christmas sale at the Intercontinental organized by the Women’s International Group. It’s an event all small shops and sellers want to get into and unfortunately we didn’t hear about the registration until it was too late. Luckily, a friend of a friend was generous enough to give up 1/4 of her table to us. It was a great chance to sell some products and meet with other vendors who are involved in similar social enterprise projects around Cambodia. Overall, I think we did quite well and had many, many positive comments about the project and, of course, the products. Children loved the monsters and one 2-year was besides herself with delight over her new Greta the Cat.I also met two knitters (!) who live in PP. I mentioned that CK will likely start a knitting group (S&B) and possibly lessons for newbies at a local cafe in the new year and they were both keen to get in on the action. We will knit the town in...

Rambo

Sorry for the lack of updates this past week, but things have been so busy I just haven’t had the time. Tomorrow is the annual Women’s International Group Christmas Bazaar at the Intercontinental Hotel and we’ve been frantically trying to prepare enough stock to sell. Two knitters from Toul Sambo, Vireak and Koun, joined us in the workshop for the week to help out. This was great not only because we needed the extra hands, but because it demonstrated to the trainers how far their students had come. I had been in contact with Hagar for a few weeks, trying to meet with them to and hire a couple of their students. Hagar is another local organization that uses the social enterprise approach to help women from difficult (often devastating) backgrounds get back on their feet. I met with two of their graduate students and hired them on the spot. They both have training in sewing and work experience in this area, but were keen to try working with knitted items instead. They won’t be doing any knitting, focusing on assembly instead. Finally, I have to write about the latest addition to what is a plethora of massage options in Phnom Penh. One of the greatest things about living here is the availability of cheap, amazing massage. The options are almost limitless. You can go to a fancy spa on the riverside and have a 25$ Swedish massage, go to an arty French-run spa for an Indian head massage for 10$ or, one of my favourites, pay only 5$ for an incredible, stress releasing accupressure massage at Seeing Hands...

Graduation

Yesterday we had a very informal graduation ceremony to give the TS knitters certificates of participation as well as the completion bonuses from sponsors. Mony gave each knitter a grade based on how well they knit, attendance and attitude and this was marked on their certificates. I also finally had a translator with me, so I’ll be able to send out more info on your knitter to all sponsors this weekend. We had planned on having a small party to celebrate the end of the training, but unfortunately, we received terrible news just as we were leaving town: the community where Tyna and Rofi live was ablaze. They quickly returned home to check on their families. We were too worried to stay at Toul Sambo too long and returned as soon as we could in case there was anything we could or needed to do. The blaze, which went on for most of the morning, destroyed over 200 homes, most of them being wooden. Everyone from CK was lucky, though, and their homes were spared. The houses next door to Rony, who now works from home, was burned down, but hers was not....

Welcome, 18 new knitters

Yesterday was our last day of training at Toul Sambo. That’s a total of 15 training days spread out over a month and the results are fantastic! Today I went back to the community with Mony to talk to each of the knitters (I finally have a competent translator) and they were all pleased with the training and what they had accomplished. Several of them said they really enjoyed the training because it gave them a chance to sit together in a relaxed atmosphere and talk while learning. Others were, of course, looking forward to earning an income. The very good news is that Mony accepted over 60 finger puppets that had been knitted during the training. There are more still to be collected but they had not yet been mattress stitched together. Knitters at Toul Sambo will do all the knitting and stitching minus stuffing the head, putting on the eyes and attaching the head to the body. That will be done at the head office for consistency. About 5 of the knitters are still not confident with mattress stitch and Mony, Tyna and Rofi are going back out on Monday for a day of training on this. On Thursday we’ll give each knitter a certificate of completion and have a small party to celebrate the hard work of all the...

100 hundred hats

Sorry for the lack of updates. More to come soon, I promise. I’m flat out busy with everything here, but soon… In place of any local news, I direct your attention to this: http://onehundredhats.blogspot.com/ . It’s one woman’s quest to knit 100 hundred hats in one year, all to be donated to charity. Her hats are all beautiful and knit with love for those who could use a little extra warmth in the...

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