Students at the Sewing Centre study garment design and construction, a course targeted specifically at ensuring students don't end up working in garment factories. Instead, they will leave with the skills to design and make clothes for commercial sale and possibly even have their own labels one day.
At our Srey Mean Chey Centre, young women aged over 18 who do not fit in to our regular programs but who are still victims of the same hardship and abuse as our CCF children, make fabulous purses and handbags for retail sale. While the women are in training, we pay them a fair salary that increases as they progress through to senior trainee, then bag maker. All women in the EnGender program receive free health care, sick leave, a 20 kilogram supply of rice every month and performance bonuses. They work a five and a half day week, seven hours a day in a clean, healthy, well-ventilated environment. They have set break times and freshly cooked meals, all a far cry from life on the garbage dump.
The course also covers money management skills, such as budgeting and saving, and three times a week, one of CCF's counsellors and legal advocates joins the women to hold open discussion groups about ongoing problems, such as domestic violence and substance abuse.
It's all very well for CCF to be putting effort into this program, but we mustn't forget that this training requires a lot of hard work from the women. Transitioning from an uneducated manual laborer to a trainee in a structured work environment with rules and regulations requires a level of dedication and strength of commitment most of us have never known.
For this reason, we're proud to see these remarkable mothers expanding the boundaries of their potential, and we're confident that they will soon become strong voices within their families and communities.