So I just finished a casual meeting with a woman from City Hall, Davy. She's a project manager with a poverty reduction programme they have, but I didn't hear much about this. She's been involved in UNHABITAT and knows a lot of the poor communities in and around Phnom Penh. She also has been involved in some of the relocation sites and runs a handicraft business in order to provide employment to poor families in those areas. Seems we are on the same page.
She recommended one relocation site where she has met with the families and they are very eager to get some training and work. She doesn't have enough of a market for any more of her products (says she has a surplus now) and wants to introduce me to the community to see if it is possible to start a knitting workshop there. Its great to have someone who knows the people and the situation well and to get introduced that way. I'll visit the site with her sometime next week.
Another option that is still open is to work with women from around the old dump site at Stung Meanchey. Again, I have a friend with a very deep connection to and understanding of the community who is willing to help me in building a strong foundation of trust. This is going to be important because each site will have to be somewhat tailored to the needs of the community. The products will be the same and the expectation of quality will remain high, but how we engage with the knitters and train them will need to be sensitive to local realities.
I'll post some photos of the kinds of products that the women Davy works with produce tomorrow. They make flowers out of corn husks, bamboo leaves and other such waste products and they are really impressive! More on that later.
To end on a very, very sad note, Meow is still missing. Its been almost 3 weeks now and I still have crying spells and minor depression. I've hired a pet detective to look for her and printed hundreds of photos of her to hand out. Today is a very lucky day, or so the Chinese population of Cambodia say, being 090909. I hope it beings us some luck and Meow comes home tonight..... :...(