Help CK grow!

Help CK grow!

We’re growing to a new stage and we need your help to get there! Cambodia Knits is excited to announce that we’ll soon be working with Caritas in Toul Sambo to set up a full knitting workshop right in the community. Caritas are building new housing and community spaces, and there is room for a CK workspace!  This means we’ll now have an on-site dedicated space to assemble our products to completion. Currently, CK has to purchase unfinished knitted parts from Toul Sambo, then assemble them together in the Phnom Penh office. With the new workspace, knitters will now be able to earn more by making completely finished products! We’re thrilled with this opportunity, so to get the space running we’re asking for a small funding infusion. Our immediate goal is to: fund the knitters’ new training for assembly, and afford travel to the community during training purchase equipment and materials to create a safe and healthy work environment Your donations will also go towards: setting up a contingency fund for staff; a set reserve that staff can borrow from, with no interest or advance signage, brochure printing and advertising to raise awareness for and promote CK business registration fees Because we’re not a registered charity, we can’t issue tax receipts — however, donors will receive a heartfelt email of thanks, and a mention on our Donor Wall of gratitude. Every bit will help CK get through this challenging stage. Please donate today via Paypal by clicking the button below. Thank you! Donations are fully secure using the PayPal...

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...

First puppets from Toul Sambo

Yesterday, the trainers went out to the community armed with plastic eyes, tapestry needles and coloured thread. Each knitter got to make up one or more of their finished puppets to keep for themselves or their children. I went this morning and some of them were wonderful! See photos below: Finally for Lena: your knitter, Touch Chayron with her first monkey. Ven Thy and Chan Thyda. Soy Srey Neang. Sin Soeun and Noun Soka. Krouch Koun, and the best monkey of the lot. Our champion knitter, Ven Vireak. All this is very good as we have a handful of orders for Christmas and will need more knitters soon. Hopefully, we get more orders to we can keep purchasing from the TS knitters and keep them working. I got some of our smaller items into Baitong Restaurant yesterday. They support several other NGOs and social enterprises and have a small shop area at the front of the restaurant to display items such as honey from Mondulkiri, baskets from Battambang and pepper from Kampot. All good projects, all providing jobs. Oh, and the website looks better organized (www.cambodiaknits.com) but the links are still AWOL and I want to put more information on it over the coming week. I also hope our graphic design guardian angel in Amsterdam gives us some...

Last day of training before Water Festival

So yesterday was the 7th day of training and the last before a week long break. Today is a holiday for the 5th year anniversary of the current King’s coronation, tomorrow is a holiday for the former King’s birthday and Monday-Wednesday are off for the Water Festival. Cambodia has the most national holidays of any country in the world except for Sri Lanka. Not for me though! The knitters have come in for a couple days of sewing together finger puppets are we are way behind! The training has been going really well. One knitter has quit…. she just could not understand. She tried really hard the first week and I had really hoped she would keep fighting on, but she decided she wouldn’t be able to do it. Of the rest of the knitters, about 4 or 5 are exceptionally good and pretty much ready to start making things for us! The rest are doing really well, but still have some problems like rowing out, twisting stitches or not doing the decreases correctly. When we go back next week, we’ll focus on those that need to improve their technique and we’ll bring some plastic eyes and tapestry needles so everyone can finish what they’ve made and have some finished products to be proud of. They can give these to their children or as presents or keep or whatever they want. There are also dozens of pairs of booties around and I’m going to contact the national hospital and see if we can’t donate them to newborns from poor families. The last of the sponsored knitter photos… I think....

Sponsorships call is over!

We’ve had more people interested in sponsoring a knitter than we have knitters! While it’s great that all participants now have a distant supporter, I’m sorry that some of you won’t be able to sponsor a knitter this time around. If all goes well, I hope we can train another group in late December or the new year and then we’ll look for more sponsors. I haven’t been able to go to the training at Toul Sambo the past couple days as I’ve been stuck at the computer doing boring admin type things instead. The trainers get to have all the fun! I’m actually really happy that they can go out there on their own and are more than confident and competent to carry out the training without me. We’re taking a very informal approach to the training, no modules or tests, no books or note taking. Most people when they learn from their friends or mama’s simply sit nearby and ask lots of questions. Nothing is more important than just practicing and frogging and learning from mistakes. Our approach will need to change somewhat once we’re working on the patterns, but that brings up a whole other issue… Many of the participants are illiterate and we have to find a way for this not to be an obstacle to them. The trainers think that those that can’t read can get help from those who can to get through the patterns. I don’t think this is ideal because it will create a dependency and a power dynamic that might lead to disempowerment and frustration. While I’d like to think...

Training Day 1

The first day of training this morning went very well. Three knitters, pictures below, were able to finish knitting a bootee and were eager to start on the second one as we were leaving. I’m sure there will be many more finished tomorrow. Everyone who signed up on Thursday attended, which is great. When I called for a break at 10am, they all told me to basically shut up and let them get on with it. They also wanted us to stay longer as everyone wanted to keep going. Some photos from today: Ven Vireak sponsored by Stephen Seto Kung Pisey sponsored by Ali Sanderson Heng Srey Neang sponsored by Clairone...

Knitting School

We went back out to the community today to make sure that everyone that is interested has a pair of needles. Quite a few of the people we met on Friday had kept going over the weekend and we saw a few finished pieces of all garter and some stocking stitch! Some of them were amazingly good for beginners. Mony, Tyna and Rofi continued teaching and I asked them to also show the continental style of knitting. Not everyone learns the same, not everyone knits the same and I think that if someone is discouraged with one style, the other might be more suitable for them. I spent the morning working with a group of women trying to teach/convert them to continental (I confess, I am a continental knitting snob and not only do I prefer it, but generally think it is the superior method… this might offend some of you English style knitters and I am sorry, but whether our knitters choose English style or continental style we will of course support them, but I will try at this early stage to get them on my team ;)). Ooops, long digression there. Anyway, so knitting school was in full swing today, with about 20 people sitting in small groups giving it their best. I really have to give extra props to the handful of male knitters for joining the training. One of them is learning really fast and could potentially be our best knitter! In sponsorship news, we have found 14 sponsors so far! I’ve added a “donate” button onto the right hand panel of the blog to...

Sponsorship call!

Sponsor a Knitter – Support a livelihood You could help a struggling community help itself, stitch by stitch! Cambodia Knits is hoping to find sponsors to support knitters-to-be through a three-week basic knitting training period. Starting October 19, 2009, Cambodia Knits will be training members of the community at Toul Sambo, Cambodia. Once trained, participants will have the skills — and guaranteed employment — to earn an income and support their families. That means your one-time support will launch a livelihood for years to come. Who you’re sponsoring Toul Sambo is located 25 kilometres outside of Phnom Penh, where there’s little access to employment opportunities. The families living here were recently relocated from Phnom Penh and due to the high prevalence of HIV infection among the community, it has received the unfortunate nickname of “the AIDS village”. This relocation made international news and was widely condemned. The stigma of living in the green metal sheds that make up the relocation site, further marginalizes the people there. We hope that through training and gainful employment, Toul Sambo community members can overcome these recent struggles and work towards a brighter future. 33 community members are interested in taking part and we don’t want to deny any of them the opportunity. How it works Cambodia Knits is offering training in the community to anyone interested in learning how to knit. Participants will receive a small daily fee in lieu of what they might have been able to earn otherwise during training time. They will also get a bonus on successful completion of training. These stipends are where your funds will be used....

Future Knitters

I wanted to post this since our visit to the community last week, but didn’t have a chance until now. On Friday Davy and I visited Toul Sambo again to have a short meeting with community members to tell them about Cambodia Knits training, working for CK, training dates and so on. When we arrived, Hope, a health organization (I have tried to look it up, but there are at least a dozen orgs with HOPE somewhere in their names) was there giving basic check-ups, distributing ARVs and holding a short meeting to pass on some health messages. We introduced CK to everyone there. Some had met us the week before, but most people had been away for Pchum Ben so it was there first time to hear about the training and the possibility of working for us. I showed some of the completed monsters and they were very well received (lots of smiles from the kids). Everyone was very eager to give knitting a try, to see if they could learn how to make the funny creatures. Surprisingly enough, there are several men who want to try as well! I had presumed that only women would be interested, as knitting is generally considered in the feminine domain (not saying I agree, but really, that is the generalization) perhaps even more so in Cambodia. I had always imagined that the project would be about helping women in these communities, but if men want to join, I can’t and won’t have any objections. One of the men used to work as a motodup (motorbike taxi driver for those not savvy...