Normally purchased from an external provider, we have, many times, been disappointed by the quality of the uniforms we bought: issues with delivery, bad quality… Aside from these problems, we also felt it was the opportunity that represented this project that helped us set it up.
On the same model as the green gardens project that was installed in the families to provide food for the school canteen, the main idea was to give an extra salary to the family, and therefore improve their quality of living.
For this launch year, we decided to produce only the uniforms of the primary school and to buy the ones for the secondary school and pastry school from an external provider. The objective is, for next year, to produce all the uniforms.
The first step for this project was to recruit the “sewer” mothers. In order to accomplish this, I asked for help from the person who knows the families best: Soky, our social officer at the primary school. She helped me identify families who most needed this extra income and amongst these, 3 mothers had sewing skills: Sokheng, Mom and Mai.
Sokheng lives in a small house made of metal in a village opposite Angkor Wat with her husband and her two children. Her daughter Panha, is 6 years old and will be entering Grade 2 in October. Her son is only 4 months old, and it is very difficult for her to feed him correctly as she has no income.
Mom lives in a big house on the side of the river that goes through the temples’ enclosure. She lives with her four nephews and nieces. They are enrolled in Bayon. She is the only person in the household to have a form of income. She is therefore in charge of buying the food and to provide for the needs of her family.
Mai has 3 children: her two daughters are enrolled in Bayon primary school, Sopheak in Grade 5 and Sreyka in Grade 4, and her son, Kvan, aged 3 is for now too young to join the benches of school.
These three women all live in very precarious conditions and did not hesitate to seize the opportunity of an income. When we visited their homes to offer the chance to participate in the production of the uniforms, they all accepted without hesitation. However, their skills were insufficient, we had to ask help from Lan, a professional sewer.
The purchase of the fabric and accessories was done at the market, the cut of the fabric to the right size and especially the training of the mothers for the sewing of the pieces, Lan is an essential member of this chain of production for this first year. Also living in precarious conditions, she also benefitted from this project. Next year, we will make sure the mothers take charge of the whole chain of production.
To start the conception, we needed to invest in new equipment: a sewing machine, 3 irons, a special machine to sew the buttons… Luckily, the donators supported us!
At this date in early September, the production continues: we are finishing the uniforms for Grades 3, 4, 5, and 6 and we are going to start soon the uniforms for Kindergarten, Grades 1 and 2. Objective: 490 uniforms for the 1rst of October!
Phorn, the director of the primary school and Jeanne, our fundraising officer, bring me essential help for the tracking of the production. We visit the 4 women invested in the project 2 times a week to make sure they are not missing anything and to collect the uniforms that have been produced already. It is very encouraging!
We are impatient to see the students in their uniforms produced by the mothers of Bayon.