Introducing Mekong Blue!

August 08, 2014

Even if it’s not quite time to get out sweaters, we think you’ll fall in love with this silk scarf from Shared Trade partner Mekong Blue. Made by women in Cambodia, this scarf takes about two weeks to create from setting the loom to the final weave! With simple elegance, a Mekong Blue scarf can help dress up for a night out or dress down for a cozy evening in. The scarves will be available as soon as the weather turns in October! 

The scarves are not available until October, we’d still like to introduce you to the Cambodian craftswomen working for Mekong Blue. This is Nuon Sre, a Cambodian craftswoman who was orphaned at a young age.

“I’m from a poor family,” she said. “Our income was not enough to support a family. Sometimes we’d have enough to eat in the morning, but not enough for the evening meal.”

One day, she heard about Mekong Blue and her life changed. She began working and taking classes in reading, health, and job skills.

“I’m very happy to work here,” she said. “Before, I was illiterate. But at the center, I learned to read and write a little and also add and subtract. And I’ve learned so many new skills. I know how to mix colors, dye the silk, and lots more.  Now I live independently, I can support myself and my younger brothers. I pay for their school, clothes, and food. And I can support myself as well.”

Nuon uses her attention to detail and artistic touch to produce a stunning product. As a craftswoman, Nuon is able to provide her family with better housing and an improved quality of life. 

“Now I live independently,” she said. “Now I can support myself and my younger brothers. I pay for their school, clothes, and food. And I can support myself as well.”

Each scarf Nuon makes takes about two weeks from design to finished product. After carefully dying the silk, Nuon sets up the loom to create the various patterns on the silk cloth. Depending on the complexity of the pattern, it can take an entire week to set up the loom. Once the loom is ready, the weaving begins and a scarf is on the way. Nuon uses her attention to detail and artistic touch to produce a stunning product.

In the rural and isolated region of Stung Treng in Cambodia, women like Nuon Strey are particularly vulnerable. With limited education, women either marry or move to a city where prostitution is the only work available.

Together, Mekong Blue and the Stung Treng Women’s Development Center (SWDC) empower women toward economic freedom through a wide variety of programming that includes healthcare, literacy and health classes, vocational training in carpentry and building, as well as childcare and nutrition. The efforts of Mekong Blue and SWDC have helped over 500 women and their children.

But how do the scarves play a role in this incredible story? Well, the scarves sold by Mekong Blue, and soon available to you, provide job opportunities and marketable skills for rural Cambodian women and make the SWDC’s programming sustainable.

As you’ve probably figured out, these handcrafted scarves from Mekong Blue are more than just a fashion statement, they help women live freer and help heal a whole village.

Be sure to look out for more videos and blog posts on our site this week!

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