Meet the Artisans of Rajana Association, Cambodia
Known as the Land of Smiles, Cambodia is a relatively small nation in Southeast Asia. Although the Kingdom of Cambodia is rich in natural resources, decades of war and internal conflict have left it one of the world's poorest countries. Cambodia's poorest people are isolated. They live in remote villages, far from basic social services and facilities. Many have to travel more than 5 km to reach a health clinic, and still others live more than 5 km from the nearest road. Tribal peoples and women are generally the most disadvantaged.
Cambodia has a long and rich history in silk production and weaving dating back more than a thousand years. Women across southern Cambodia have looms in their homes, and they practice the art passed down from their mothers and grandmothers. But now the ancient craft is slowly dying as the cost of imported raw silk continues to climb while the price of finished silk textiles drops. Despite declining profits and overwhelming obstacles, many weavers say they cannot imagine leaving a profession that they have worked at for so long.
Rajana was established as a project by a UK charity called Southeast Asian Outreach (SAO). SAO was founded in 1973 by a Cambodian Christian named Chhirc Taing who was studying in the UK. He appealed to the British Church to help in Cambodia. SAO was registered with the Cambodian Government as an International NGO in 1991. In 1995, Marie Hill founded Rajana using Cambodian young people whom she had met while working in the Refugee Camps in Thailand. During the years 1995-97, Rajana developed from just two people learning basic card marking skills in Marie's house and selling to her friends, to 5 or 6 staff including three silversmiths.
Rajana aims to give young, underprivileged Cambodian people the opportunity to be trained in the production and marketing of contemporary craft. Rajana is committed to the personal development of our workers as individuals in an economic, social, and spiritual sense. Rajana provides employment with fair wages and a safe work environment where people have opportunities for professional development.
Rajana is a member of Artisans Association of Cambodia, a certified Fair Trade organisation.
Rajana supports home-based producers through a business relationship with them which is fair, and not exploitative. Currently, Rajana buys from 130 home-based producer families in different provinces. This support takes the form of a fair business relationship. Some of their producers have been selling their goods to Rajana Association for ten years or more and are happy to say that their lives have improved from increased income. Now, families are able to send their children to school, have enough food for the family and purchase motorbikes for transportation.
Rajana's recycled bombshell jewellery range has touched hearts of many. Click here for our recycled bombshell range.
Click for Fair Trade products by this artisan group and their fellow countrymen.
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