In Jan 2002, the 'Center of Destination' became the Stung Treng Women's Development Center (SWDC). By the end of April that year all the patients at the hospice had been filtered into other health agencies.
Women were initially targeted because they generally suffer higher levels of poverty in Stung Treng's provincial region, as they are more vulnerable and the value of women is low. They are expected to stay at home, care for the family, and attend to farming needs, with minimal opportunity for education or skill development. Khmer culture dictates that education is not for women. They are expected to rely upon their husbands or other male family members, some living with physical and mental abuse with little opportunity or power to leave. Through empowering women, you empower their children, family and the community.
We began in a small house in Stung Treng town, a donation of $3000 from Lee & Theresa Miller, Seattle, 2 weaving looms and big dreams. The new plan was to offer programs that increased education and employment training and opportunities. There was great enthusiasm from the local women to become involved and confidences grew easily as they came together at the center. It was discovered that this new direction had a powerful impact. Literacy and health educational programs gave the women more confidence to function within the community and increased their capability to care for themselves and families. Vocational training and employment opportunities increased skills, generated an income, improved living standards and empowered individuals be able to support their families and to make choices for themselves.
The project and our programs have naturally grown to meet the needs within the community. SWDC now supports a wider range of the community including the women's children and families and local men and children from the poor village that surrounds our new location. Between 2002 -2010 we have benefited over 496 women, 685 children, 50 men and a total of 566 families from 5 different districts. We have also recruited staff from Takeo Province, who are highly skilled in the art of traditional silk design, to pass these skills on to the women in the center.
SWDC is located 4km from the town center, in Sre Po Village. We have grown quickly since our conception and our programs have included:
- Education Program - Literacy and Health classes
- Education Program - School Sponsorship
- Vocational Training - Traditional Weaving and Sewing
- Vocational Training - Carpentry and Building
- Vocational Training - Sericulture
- Support Program - Child Care and Kindergartens
- Employment at our production center for mekong blue
- Employment at our Cafe and Gallery
- Employment for construction
- Free lunch program for all staff.
Since moving to Sre Po Village SWDC physically grew, so men from the local village were trained, employed and put to work building, gaining valuable on-the-job experience. Under the direction of co-director Kim Dara Chan, the men have built:
- 2 Weaving & Sewing Buildings
- 1 Dye Shed
- Carpentry Workshop
- Cafe and Gallery
- Sericulture Center
- Dormitory, Kitchen and Dining Area
Please read more details about all of our projects and our future plans on our Projects pages.