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100 Women & Human and Hope Association

Last month, I had the honour of accepting a 100 Women grant on behalf of Human and Hope Association in Perth. This grant of $9,300 will provide sewing supplies and stipends for 24 marginalised women in HHA’s life-changing sewing program over 2018 and 2019. I am proud to share my speech.

When we first started the sewing program at Human and Hope Association, it was a class that taught the basics of sewing. With the second intake of the sewing program came a lady named Saney. Saney only had a second-grade education and as a result, she didn’t have the knowledge or skills to gain a stable job. Instead, Saney would take rattan from the forest with her daughter and make baskets which she could then sell for 12 cents each. She, her husband and her daughter only had enough money to eat two meals a day, and even then, they struggled.

Saney asked her husband for permission to study in the sewing program, and he said no. She persisted until finally, he agreed that she could study our program and gain a new skill. Saney would ride her bicycle for an 8km journey every day and would turn up to class 30 minutes early to practice her stitching. Two months into studying, Saney asked HHA to borrow funds through our microfinance program so she could purchase a sewing machine. Whilst still studying, she earnt $1.50 a day fixing clothes for her neighbours. I knew that there was more we could do to support Saney and the other students, so we developed an advanced sewing class. This allowed students to learn further skills which would put them ahead in the job market.

Saney was hired by us to make our handicrafts and was crucial in launching our social enterprise. Last year, she resigned as our seamstress as her home sewing business had expanded so much that she couldn’t keep up with demand. Saney and her husband built their dream home this year, a brick structure with windows and tiled floors that replaced their bamboo shack with dirt ground. Now earning $5 a day, she has now broken free of the poverty bracket, and her husband even compliments her that she often earns more money than he does!

By awarding us this 100 Women grant, you are making a positive impact on the lives of women and girls like Saney in our community in Siem Reap. These funds will ensure we can tackle the next goal in our sewing program, which is to reach women who are living 30km away. By training these women, they will break free of the cycle of poverty. We will also ensure their children are educated and champion for the respect that women deserve, but are not necessarily granted, in Cambodia.

Thank you for supporting an entirely Khmer-run organisation, and thank you for all you do for women around the world.

100 Women is a giving circle which enables everyday people to be involved in creating a world where all women and girls can live safely with access to health, education and economic freedom. To learn more about how you can become a member, visit https://100women.com.au.