Sra Srong Community comprises 5 villages of approximately 30 families in each with an average of 4-6 children per family. Located quite close to the famous Angkor Temples in Siem Reap Province, this community is nevertheless very remote from essential services such as running water, electricity and healthcare.
Access to the village is by a sandy track that fills with water during the wet season and thick sand during the dry. The main mode of transport for villagers is bicycle. The nearest market for food and supplies is in a neighbouring community and the local Primary School is around 3km away, quite a distance for young children to go to school.
Sra Srong is known locally as a basket weaving community. Here, many of the women are skilled in the craft of weaving baskets from rattan cane which grows naturally in the surrounding jungle areas. Much of their day is spent gathering the rattan cane and stripping it of its skin and spines in readiness for weaving. Once enough cane is prepared, a skilled weaver can complete one basket in about an hour.
Most adults within the community are uneducated and unable to read or write. There is no industry nearby, so many of the men travel away each day looking for work as unskilled construction labourers and farm hands. If they are lucky enough to pick something up, the average income they may receive is around $5 per day.
The women rely on the sale of baskets they weave to supplement their husband's income. Periodically, seasoned traders come through the community to buy the baskets but the women have no bargaining power and the price they receive is very much at the whim of the trader and usually very low. The uncertainty of their husband's work and the unreliability of the sale price for their baskets makes it a struggle for families to make ends meet from week to week.
Many children do not attend school due to the economic instability of their families. Instead they help Mum by looking after younger siblings or perhaps searching for rattan cane in the jungle so that she has more time to spend making more baskets to sell, thereby hoping to increase the income of the family. Spare money for school uniforms, learning materials and additional school payments is difficult to find and an added burden to many of these families.
As with many rural communities in Cambodia, the aim is to build a strong and sustainable social and economic structure that will provide the basis for generations to come to build brighter futures for themselves. We have focussed on supporting the community with programs to build greater reliability into the women’s basket weaving activities and to develop stronger food sustainability through community farming.
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