Grace House Community Centre, an NGO which works with disadvantaged children and their families, has opened a tea-shop on the road to Tonlé Sap. Serving liquid refreshments as well as tasty homemade baked treats from Sister Srey Café, founder Bridget Cordory hopes it will draw more passersby into the Grace House shop which sells products made by hand by local women.
Having opened the shop a year ago, project manager Cordory decided to open a small tea-shop inside it in late March. Being a Brit, tea and cake were clearly going to feature on the menu.
“I’d always had this vague fancy of doing cream teas and English scones,” Cordory smiles, “But in reality it’s difficult here. So this is our next best thing. Really it’s to try and attract more people to come in. People cycle a lot, so hopefully we’ll get them when they cycle down to the lake or to the pagoda, get them to stop and have a drink and maybe buy something.”
The petite café with its brightly-coloured chairs and tables sells tea, coffee and cold drinks while on the food side, cashew-nut cookies, deliciously-buttery lemon rice-flour shortbread, and granola bars are on sale. The baked goods are supplied by popular Siem Reap coffee shop, Sister Srey Café.
“If we get enough trade we’ll look at doing fruit juices and fruit shakes in the future,” says Cordory.
The shop itself sells a variety of jewellery as well as bags and belts made from hemp, and place mats woven from water hyacinth. The items are handmade by the women from the Grace Gecko Vocational Centre for Women, a collaboration between Grace House Community Centre and the Green Gecko Project.
The training centre teaches weaving skills to disadvantaged and marginalised women, enabling them to earn a wage from their craft.
“We have a couple of the Green Gecko mothers coming to work with us,” says Cordory. “The ladies that we’re employing are all from the poorer families and the income just helps them to make ends meet.”
The Grace House tea-shop is open from 9am – 5pm seven days a week.