published in Livelihoods / Small Business / New SkillsWomen / Girls on April 9, 2018

A new future woven

For 35 years, Chu Mas felt her life was hopeless.

Not only was she a single mother, she was the only one in her family left to care for her ageing mother. The family had only a small rice farm to meet their needs – and often it didn’t.

A generic square placeholder image with rounded corners in a figure.
Weaving a new future

Like so many other Cambodian people in poor communities, this was life for Chu Mas …

… until help arrived from the ALWS family, supported by the Australian Government, working with our Cambodian partner ‘Life With Dignity’ (LWD).

The help you gave Chu Mas was very hands-on – learning how to weave!

The challenge for Chu Mas was finding time to study at the vocational training centre when simply surviving was such a struggle.

But the more she learned about weaving, the more Chu Mas could see opportunities – especially in weaving kromas, the beautiful traditional Cambodian all-purpose scarf.

Now, ten years on, Chu Mas weaves between 3 and 8 kromas a day, depending on what other tasks she must do.

Each kroma sells for between $1.25 and $2.50 each, meaning Chu Mas now has a good steady income. (The average wage for a garment worker in Cambodia is $5 a day.)

Chu Mas can barely contain her excitement at what the investment in her training has done for her life:

“Weaving is my new hope… weaving skills have changed and improved my life. I will not feel hopeless any longer.”

What’s exciting is how the ALWS family investment in Chu Mas is now bringing benefits far beyond just Chu Mas’ family.

Chu Mas wanted to help other members of her community to increase their income too, so she taught five women how to weave.

I do hope that I am able to help more women in the village who have small children to be employed in my weaving firm. This helps them to work near their homes.”

Now, because of increased market demand, Chu Mas has had to buy and build more looms. On a busy day, there are four looms clicking and clacking, as feet peddle and hands guide threads, creating kromas.

From the threads of a broken life, a beautiful new future has been woven.