Sean Sreygha and Leouat Hong
Written by Asta Pasanen
Location: Tasne village, Siem Reap province
Summary: Tailoring training has offered Sean Sreygha and Leouat Hong a way to make a decent living in work they find enjoyable. Increased awareness of their rights and confidence to exercise them has led to improved quality of life.
Sean Sreygha and Leouat Hong, both 28, are residents of Tasne village, Donkeo commune of Siem Reap province. They come from big families and for economic reasons did not have chance to study as much as they would have wanted, Hong dropping out of school after 4th grade and Sreygha after 8th grade. Before joining Banteay Srei’s vocational training of tailoring at Women’s Development Centre they worked odd jobs. This lead for instance to migrating to Phnom Penh in search of livelihood possibilities working at factories. However, due to unfit working conditions and lack of supportive working environment both women returned to their home village. When the Community Facilitator announced that Banteay Srei was looking for candidates to participate in vocational training, Sreygha and Hong decided to apply.
Banteay Srei offers two lines of training at Women’s Development Centre: tailoring and weaving. Target participants are poor rural women who lack the means to make a decent living, and through the training they learn a skill which helps them to generate income in the future. Sreygha started first with weaving but soon switched to tailoring as she felt more interested in it. The training course of Hong and Sreygha included 12 women, most of whom were in tailoring program.
After being trained for only six months at the centre Sreygha and Hong have reached a very good level at their tailoring skills, resulting to a local company Pactics Cambodia CO. LTD. deciding to hire them for a 3-month trial period. Hong and Sreygha receive a monthly salary of $135 and both report to enjoy the work which they find inspiring, pleasant and physically light. This is a considerable improvement especially for Hong, who worked for the last 5 years at construction sites, earning only $1 to $1,25 for a day’s work. While in comparison Sreygha’s last job was a relatively easy and decently paid one at a bookshop, but she wanted to learn a skill to improve her livelihood possibilities in the future.
Both Sreygha and Hong are very satisfied with the training and praise it for providing them not only the skill of tailoring with which they will be able to generate income in the future, but also coaching on women’s rights and WASH practices. Moreover, an introduction to micro entrepreneurship is also part of the program. As result of the training they feel more worthy and confident as to their role in the society, and increased awareness of their rights has given them courage to express their opinions in public. Sreygha can now work independently and, in addition to knowledge on making clothes according to patterns and adjusting them to client’s individual needs, she has also designed some models by herself. As to Hong, feeling skilled has given her the confidence to apply for jobs and actively seek for better livelihood possibilities.
The training period at the Women’s Development Centre lasts for one year. All participants are offered accommodation and daily allowance for the duration of training. Hong and Sreygha both lived at the centre together with majority of the course participants. It was challenging for their families to make ends meet without receiving financial support from them, but both women reckon it was worth of the struggle. Now that they have learned to tailor, they have improved chances to generate income in the future, and the entire family benefits.
The plans for future are clear: both women want to keep working as tailors and dream of running their own business. If the company will renew the contract after trial period, Hong is going to keep working for them for the time being. In case that there is no work for her, she plans to return to the centre to complete her training and after that open her own tailor shop. When it comes to Sreygha, she also wants to keep working to save money for opening her own shop later. In addition, she wants to share the benefit of the training and teach tailoring skill also to her sister. The program has provided them with the tools to better their livelihood and reach higher standard of living, and they have now taken a step towards their goal.