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Empower At-Risk Girls in Cambodia

by Senhoa Foundation
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Empower At-Risk Girls in Cambodia
Empower At-Risk Girls in Cambodia
Empower At-Risk Girls in Cambodia
Empower At-Risk Girls in Cambodia
Empower At-Risk Girls in Cambodia
Empower At-Risk Girls in Cambodia
Empower At-Risk Girls in Cambodia
Empower At-Risk Girls in Cambodia
Empower At-Risk Girls in Cambodia
Empower At-Risk Girls in Cambodia
Empower At-Risk Girls in Cambodia
Empower At-Risk Girls in Cambodia
Empower At-Risk Girls in Cambodia
Empower At-Risk Girls in Cambodia
Empower At-Risk Girls in Cambodia

Since 2010, Senhoa Foundation has established projects that address the prevention, rehabilitation and reintegration of survivors of human trafficking and those vulnerable to human exploitation. Our efforts have included establishing a pre-school, a safe house and a jewelry social enterprise. We are proud to say that we have positively impacted the lives of many vulnerable people in Siem Reap.

Our revitalized mission is to provide vulnerable women, at risk of exploitation access to the global marketplace, empowering them to become financially independent and breaking the poverty cycle in their families and communities. 

There are many challenges involved in growing a social business and Senhoa Foundation has adapted its operating model over time, to increase viability and impact. The Board has recently made the difficult decision that Senhoa Jewelry will close its production workshop in Siem Reap, Cambodia, by the beginning of 2019. We made this decision with some sadness as we bid farewell to the end of one chapter in our story and welcome in a new one. 

Our new model will shift our core business to jewelry design, sales and marketing. As we remove direct production from our business activities, we are committed to assisting our current staff transition into other employment opportunities. Once we have made this transition, our future will involve building Senhoa jewelry sales via a more cost-efficient business model without the significant overhead of a production facility. 

Thank you so much for helping us grow and impact hundreds of lives in Cambodia through Lotus Kids' Club and our vocational training programs. Our mission remains to empower vulnerable communities through employment opportunities, education and support. We look forward to increasing our impact by providing direct access to the global marketplace to vulnerable women who produce beautiful Senhoa jewelry.

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Artisan photo by Billy Scanlan
Artisan photo by Billy Scanlan

Our donors and supporters have often asked us why we chose jewelrymaking. Orginially this craft was chosen as the vocation because the basics can be picked up quickly -- a novice can learn to make a simple pair of earrings in a few minutes -- as opposed to a handicraft that would take much longer to master, such as sewing. Learning to sew clothing that is sellable may take weeks or longer to be proficient in. We wanted a skill that we could train the women in quickly, to create a product that we could sell and bring in revenue to pay the women with good wages. Also, jewelrymaking does not require any level of literacy, which was important because many of the women we worked with had never been to school and were illiterate. 

We have also found that jewelrymaking/ beading can be very therapeutic for women who have been through pain and trauma. It can be relaxing and can decrease illness-related stress, lowers blood pressure, and increases energy levels. Best of all, the process of creating something so beautiful with their own hands helped the women feel a great sense of pride--something that has eluded most of these women in their difficult lives. These creations were also helping them become independent and attain ecomoinc power, to help themselves and their families. 

Jewelrymaking is not for everyone, we know. Although many artisans have moved up quickly in skill levels to create immensely intricate and challenging pieces, not everyone has been able to or have wanted to. The important thing was that we provided the opportunity for these vulnerable women, who needed safe and secure employment and a holistic program of support to help them back on their feet and reintegrate into society. Everyone was able to learn the basics and be a part of a team that allowed them to flourish, not only technically but personally and professionally. 

In addition to the tehcinial training and counseling, we also provide our artisns with job-readiness training and a life skills education curriculum. Most of the women who come to our program have never held a regular job before. We equip them with the knowledge they need to be able to move on to any job in the future -- making sure they know how to put together a resume and how to dress and speak at interviews, to call when they will be late, etc. We teach the women on how to manage savings, about sexual health and other important life skills. We also provide support for education. Many women have elected to use this support for private school tuition, English classes or university studies. 

Our goal is to help these women become independent and equip them with all of the skills and confidence they need to go out in the world and puruse any career and goals that they desire, and with that, heal. And it all started with learning to make a simple pair of earrings. 

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Senhoa team in Mondulkiri for staff retreat
Senhoa team in Mondulkiri for staff retreat

Last month, the Senhoa family bid a fond farewell to our friend and colleague, San* as she returned to her homeland to be with her family. 

San* originally came to the Senhoa team in 2010 as a part-time artisan. Shortly after joining our vocational training program, San’s mother fell seriously ill and needed costly medical treatment. Desperate for money, the family discussed ways to find the funds. With few options available, San considered selling her virginity. This loss of innocence potentially leading to a life of sex work with little prospect of marriage in the future. 

Senhoa stepped in and paid the medical treatment for San’s mother. San, in turn, flourished during her jewelry making training and was quickly promoted to team leader becoming a valuable member of Senhoa’s social enterprise in Cambodia. 

Prior to leaving Senhoa, San passed on all her knowledge and skill to her friend and successor, Sina* to ensure the legacy of her training techniques and ability continued going forward.

The team hosted a small party with mango and passionfruit cake to say goodbye to San and presented with her a very unique Senhoa gift. A video they had choregraphed to a Khmer song that would help San remember them always. The gift was received with both tears and laughter. 

For San, life beyond Senhoa looks bright and with a new-found confidence she is looking forward to a future continuing to make jewellery and to perhaps train as an accountant as she loves numbers.  

*names changed to protect the privacy of our artisans.

Farewell spread of local fruits & cake
Farewell spread of local fruits & cake
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Artisans making beaded tubes for 2200 bracelets
Artisans making beaded tubes for 2200 bracelets

Our industrious team at Senhoa Jewelry Social Enterprise has been as busy as ever specially handcrafting bracelets for our new partnership with the Only the Brave Foundation, the nonprofit established by Italian fashion group OTB (the parent company of iconic fashion brands such as Diesel, Maison Margiela, Marni and Viktor & Rolf).

 

Featuring Senhoa’s signature weaving techniques which individually unites single Japanese seed beads, the bracelets were gifted to OTB employees raising awareness to Senhoa’s work in Cambodia with young women vulnerable or at-risk of exploitation. 

 

In addition to Senhoa’s own jewellery collections, our team of artisans often work with outside designers and customers from around the globe on private label orders, creating new designs specific to the client’s requirements.  

 

These private label orders often give opportunity to our artisans to make different pieces and learn new skills and jewellery making techniques. The orders bring variety to our artisans' work and all the while further supporting their employment with Senhoa.  

 

Senhoa is very excited to be collaborating with OTB. Further information on our partnership can be found here.

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Hiding from the doctor's needles under a kroma
Hiding from the doctor's needles under a kroma

At Senhoa, we may not always be able to keep the doctor away, but we certainly do our best to support our team when it comes to their health and wellbeing.  

 

Suffering illness or injury here in Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonder, can be a costly business often leaving marginalised families in debt, as they do not have enough money to cover unexpected medical bills. This means that all too often people will put off seeking medical help unless in an emergency, leaving individuals suffering pain or sickness.

 

For this reason, Senhoa provides assistance towards medical expenses for all of our artisans.  Whether our team needs a visit to the doctors, a hospital consultation, medicine, eye care or dentistry work, they can be confident to make that appointment knowing there are funds available to them to support any potential expense.

 

Last month, as part of Senhoa’s commitment to looking after the wellbeing of our artisans, we scheduled visits at a local health clinic for their annual medical check-up. This helps ensures our staff are staying healthy and able to make our stunning Senhoa jewellery as well as giving them peace of mind to catch any more serious health issues early, where treatment may be vital.  

 

Throughout the year we continue to encourage them to think about their health and that of their families through life skill training with various subjects. We also provide our team with personal accident insurance, as well as contribute to NSSF, a national scheme providing employment injury insurance. 

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Organization Information

Senhoa Foundation

Location: Artesia, CA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Senhoa
Senhoa Foundation
Lisa T.D.  Nguyen
Project Leader:
Lisa T.D. Nguyen
Executive Director
Artesia, CA Cambodia

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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