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Rural women learn new skills

Rural women learn new skills

Near the Beanteay Meanchey central market, 11 girls are concentrating hard as they learn to sew in a small room of the Lay Houy Tailor Shop.

Ou Mom/Phnom Penh Post
Tailor shop owner Lay Houy teaches young girls to sew dresses in Beanteay Meanchey province.

This is the second time that local tailor Lay Houy has taught poor young women to sew dresses in her shop, through a training project run by the NGO Social Environment Agricultural Development Organization (SEADO).

“I like training young people to have the same skills I have because I also come from a poor background like them,” said Lay Houy, whose hometown is in Samrong, also located in rural Beanteay Meanchey province.

Poverty in rural Cambodia has forced many young people to drop out of school to look for work, often seeing illegal migration to Thailand as the only way to earn a living.

But some young women in Beanteay Meanchey province, like Lay Houy’s students, are looking for alternatives through capacity training projects that allow them to access a decent livelihood even though they no longer receive formal schooling.

“After graduating, most of them can feed themselves by opening a small shop,” said Lay Houy of her sewing students. “One of the previous trainees has also worked at my shop and she can learn over US$200 per month.”

Sixteen-year-old Sok Seila, one of the students, said she was selected to take the classes through SEADO and the local authority because of her family’s poor standard of living.

“My parents sometimes migrate to Thailand to work in factories, but they can’t earn enough money to support us, and most of the time they need to escape from the police officers there,” Sok Seila said.

The sewing classes are funded by donations the European Union, which has supported many projects working with rural youth, especially young women, in the area.

Twenty-two-year-old Say Sokay was able to build a new house in her village of Rumdoul, Preah Neth Preah district, after opening a successful quail raising business, which she learned to do through a training course run by Ponleu Komar Kampuchea Organization (PKKO) and funded by the EU.

Say Sokay had to drop out of school when she was in grade seven to help earn money for her family.

After participating in a quail raising workshop with Ponleu Komar, Say Sokay is now able to earn a livelihood’s family improved their operations.

“After the course I had 40 quails, one egg-laying unit, and 150 eggs. Now I have increased to 12 egg-laying units, 220 female quails and 1500 chicks for  selling. Annually, I can earn from $1500 to $2000, ” said Say Sokay.

Jean-Francois Cautain, the ambassador of European Union, said on a recent trip to Banteay Meanchey that of the $14.5 million in development aid donated by the EU, he hopes about 85 per cent will include capacity development projects such as these.

“I think I feel quite good about what have supported,” said the ambassador.

“It is very much in line with our main objective in Cambodia to promote development in sustainable ways like teaching agricultural skills that pull people out of poverty.”

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