Going to Cambodia in 2010 was a life changing experience for my husband and I. While I stood at the ‘killing tree’ in the Killing Fields I learned of the Khmer Rouge. I wept as I learned about the mass murders of the 1970’s where even children were killed. Being decapitated and buried without their heads was particularly cruel and the ultimate sign of disrespect to Cambodians, who are Theravada Buddhists. I was overwhelmed that despite such a devastating history and while facing profound poverty, the Cambodian people still showed incredible resilience and compassion. On the bamboo train when I saw a woman holding her bike with an end of her Krama tied to each handle bar to make it into a bike seat for her young child a light bulb went off for me; I could see that a way to support women in Cambodia was to use, sell and celebrate their national symbol, the Krama. When I became a mother, the thought of not being able to feed your child was unbearable and my need to do something grew. Fortunately, being resourceful was part of my upbringing and a necessary part of growing up on a farm in New Zealand. I discovered my Krama was the swiss army knife of parenting as I could use it for so many things. I have been overwhelmed by the compassion and resourcefulness of both those in Cambodia and those who have helped me in New Zealand to get Krama and Co. established.
The bamboo train link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gk1B-GSG6Mg
My name is Somanita, I was born in 1985 at refugee camp- Border between Cambodia and Thailand. When I was 5 years old, we moved to Cambodia. I grew up at Phnom Penh the city of Cambodia. My parents weren’t well off so we built our home from nothing. In 2009 I graduated with an MBA from my local university. I paid my own university bills from working hard as a helper and part time nanny. I then worked at ICAN International school as an English language teacher for about 2 years. My second job was at Media- CTN TV station, and it was my dream job. After 3 and half years, I only quit as I got married and started a family. I have one beautiful daughter who is 3 years old and am now a stay at home mum. I heard about Rebecca and Krama & Co. through a mutual friend. I wanted to help the ladies making Kramas, to make a better life for them. Making Kramas is the only business to feed their family. Krama is our authentic and traditional Khmer (Cambodian national symbol) and has many uses, for example to dry off and many other ways. Nowadays the ladies making Kramas are struggling with their business, and it influences their living. When I first visited the villages, everyone was so happy that I started to order Kramas from them. I went from house to house to buy Kramas. Doing this, every family can earn some money and they can support their family and feed them. My life was quite tough so I do understand what poor people need to survive from day to day. I am glad that I have found Rebecca and Krama & Co. I now can help, give back to society and those poor people to have a better life.
It takes a village to raise a social enterprise
Starting and running Krama & Co. is the combined effort of a great deal of hard work, support and advice of a number of people. We are very grateful to them all and appreciate their place in our journey.