Producers

Cambodia is famous for its rich history, artistic heritage and architectural wonders. This richness had been clouded by the more recent history that has become synonymous with Cambodia - the Killing Fields - brought about by the Khmer Rouge Regime that killed millions of Cambodian people and destroyed the fabric of our society. 

Today, millions of people from around the world are visiting Cambodia to explore its glorious past, especially the fabled city of Angkor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.   The revival of Cambodian arts and handicrafts also attracts tourists and is becoming a vital part of the Cambodian economy.  Increasingly, creative and unique Cambodian handicrafts are being recognized and admired around the world.   

NHEB VON

Von was just 5 years old when his father was murdered by the Khmer Rouge in 1978, leaving his mother to take care of him and his 3 siblings.  After the collapse of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, his mother struggled to support the 4 children.  With barely enough to survive, his mother could not afford even very basic health care. Von lost both legs to polio and was confined to a wheel chair, while his younger brother lost both eyes to another disease.   Von got married in 1992 and has 6 children.  He had no education, no land to farm, and no other skills with which to earn a living to support his young family, so the cycle of extreme poverty started all over again.  In 2002, Peace recruited him and paid him a full salary to join the training course for making hand bags. Since then, in his own words, he has never been happier - even though he still struggles sometimes to bring up his 6 children.  With a steady source of income, his family circumstances have been improved and he hopes for a better future for his family.

CHEM SOPHEAP

Sopheap is the eldest daughter in a family of 5 children. Her father was killed during the war in 1975, and her mother struggled to take are of the children during the Khmer Rouge years and the following decades of poverty, war and political unrest. Sopheap’s mother tried her best to take care of the family but at times could not make ends meet. Sopheap lost her legs to polio and her brother lost his legs to a landmine. None of her siblings had the opportunity to study, as they all had to work to support the family. Sopheap got married in 2001 with the expectation that she could rely on her husband for support. Instead, she was subjected to severe physical abuse by her husband. He left her when her daughter was just 3 months old. She was left to fend for herself and survive by selling things on the streets of Phnom Penh. In 2002 she was picked up and sheltered by a charitable organization. She joined Peace in 2004 as a trainee and received a full wage during this time. Now she is able to help her daughter and hopes that her daughter will have a better life than the one she herself has had. “Life was unbearable then”, she recalls, “I am proud of what I have achieved. I can now take care of myself and my daughter”.

 

VIN SOPHEA

Sophea was born in 1989 to a very poor family on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. She has two younger siblings. Her father fed the family with the small amount he earned as a cyclo driver (a tri-cycle with a carriage). Her mother was half paralyzed following a stroke in 1997 and confined to a bed, putting extra burden on the poverty stricken family. Unable to support the family, Sophea’s father resorted to alcohol and physical abuse of the children as a means to release his frustration. Sophea, then just 8 years old, was sent out to work washing dishes at private homes and restaurants in order to help the family earn a little money. In 2005, after years of alcohol abuse, her father died.

Unable to cope with the situation, her mother passed away 29 days later leaving the children with nothing to live on and a mountain of debts accumulated through years of borrowing for medication and food. At age just 16, Sophea become the head of the family and had to work hard to feed her family.

In 2006, Sophea was accepted to join a sewing course at Peace. In 2007 on completion of the course she joined the Peace artisan team. She started as a machinist, and through determination and hard work, Sophea become one of Peace’s most outstanding staff. She was promoted to assistant production manager in 2009 and is now the quality control supervisor.

In June 2011, when asked about her ordeals, Sophea happily responded: “It is sad to recall my life and what I have been through. It was tough - very tough in fact. I have done what I think cannot be done to feed my brother and sister - now they are growing up and able to look after themselves. Both of them will get married soon and start their own families. I am so happy for them, and of course, for myself. Now I am looking forward to working for my own future.”

PHA THA

Pha Tha was just 3 years old when her father died. She is the youngest in her family and her mother struggled to bring up the family, surviving hand-to-mouth. At the age of 4, Pha Tha fell ill. Her mother could not afford to buy medication. The left side of her body become immobile and she could only walk around the house with a walking stick or by crawling.

In her debt-ridden family, everyone had to work to survive. Her disability proved to be a significant burden for the family. She was often subjected to physical and verbal abuse from her siblings.

In 2002, a friend told her about Peace and offered to take her to Phnom Penh and apply for work training with Peace. With the limitations of her physical condition, and lack of experience, she was accepted to work with the quality control team. Peace management at the time very skeptical about her ability to work, and in fact, does not believe that she can work at all.

Tha is now one of Peace’s longest serving staff. She has proved to be a fighter and a worthy member of the team. She helps to provide her family as much financial support as she can, however she still continues to receive verbal abuse from her siblings, as they always expecting more. Peace Continues to offer her free shelter and a good job.