The radio ads, which have only been on for two days, have paid off. This morning I met with our first two knitters, sister's-in-law, who are happy to join our team. They come from a Cham community north of the city and are going to introduce me to other family members who also know how to knit, keeping things in the family is common in Cambodia and it will be good to hire knitters from the same community at the start of the project. I had a look at the samples that they brought and they are quite skilled and with a bit of training I'm certain we can start creating amazing things.
I found out that both of them had made handknit products for sale. One woman worked at a Chinese factory making handknit sweaters for 40 USD a month and the other woman had knit baby items for sale to a person who then sold them at the local markets. What was shocking was how much she was paid per item! For a pair of standard baby bootees, she earned 200 Cambodian riel. In USD thats 5 cents. 5 cents for at least 2 hours work!! The bootees were then sold at the market for 75 cents. The yarn was poor quality, but this is irrelevant. Thyda, my translator and right hand woman, told me there are a lot of 'business people' taking advantage of cheap labour in this way. The women who end up doing the work have no choice and feel that any income, however small, is better than none at all.
I hope we can provide decent and fair opportunities to more women like this in the future... bring it on!