We’re Opening a Second Restaurant!

Future site of new restaurant

Future site of new restaurant

The Green Mango Cafe is very dear to us here at CGI. It’s the place where the students in our Culinary Training Center (CTC) get to put their education into action and gain real-world restaurant experience. It’s a place where confidence is built and skills are sharpened, paving the way out of poverty for so many at-risk women. (Plus, they make amazing Banana Bread French Toast!)

Two years after opening the Green Mango Cafe in Battambang, CGI is excited to share that we’ll be opening a second restaurant nearby! Our team in Cambodia is working hard to renovate the first floor of a three-story building that will be used for the restaurant, which will feature Mexican cuisine. If all goes according to plan, the doors will open in early June!

We are thrilled about this opportunity, and we need YOUR help! In the coming weeks we’ll be purchasing tables, chairs, kitchen equipment and other necessities.Would you consider donating a gift to help with start-up costs for the new restaurant? For gifts over $100 we’ll send you a Green Mango Cookbook! Just write “Restaurant Start-Up” in the comments section when you donate. And an added bonus: each donation will matched dollar for dollar by a generous donor!

This is a great opportunity for advanced training and jobs for our CTC graduates. We are thankful for the way God has allowed this program to grow and evolve over the years, and for your support and prayers. We couldn’t do it without you.

Donate to the New Restaurant!


The Truth About the Garment Industry

Photo Credit: Heng Chivoan http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/strike-violence-erupts

Photo Credit: Heng Chivoan http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/strike-violence-erupts

Why does fair trade matter in the garment industry?

Try searching “garment protest” on the Phnom Penh Post, the Cambodian capital’s newspaper.

You’ll find articles entitled things like this: Glue fumes cause mass workplace faintings (August 2013), Strike violence erupts (January 2014), and even, Two monks hauled in for doing blessing on striking workers (January 2013), and this is just in Cambodia.

A staggering number of people worldwide are living on less than $1.25 per day, working in unhealthy environments and for unreasonable hours. It’s not an exaggeration that their lives are at risk—these garment factories have collapsed, the fumes from the products making employees sick. Then, when the workers push for change, asking for reasonable wages, they are sometimes literally beaten back by the Cambodian government, military officials and police.

Why should we care? Because we make the consumer market that drives these low wages that the workers protest. Our need and desire to see low prices on clothing continues to keep these workers in factories that have no concern for their well-being. So often, we unknowingly buy from retailers that keep these workers under their thumbs, playing a naive but not altogether innocent role in the problem.

What can you do? Be a knowledgeable consumer, know where your products are made and support fair trade and local operations. It may cost you a little more, but at least it’s not costing a life half a world away.


(By the way, we know a great place to shop, and the employees are paid four times the poverty level in Cambodia)

Shop Now


DSC_0238Financial debt plagues a huge percentage of the impoverished in Cambodia. This isn’t like the debt you and I know in the US. There, loan sharks prey on families facing desperate situations, imposing staggering interest that makes repayment almost impossible. In a country where many families earn less than $2 a day, any crisis–a health problem, a natural disaster, a disruption in income–can put them at risk for starvation. So they take out loans for small amounts that snowball into larger amounts over time, and often find themselves desperate once again, this time for a different reason. This is one of the biggest reasons that children are forced into the sex industry.

Not all parents in this situation sell their daughters to traffickers, but some do. This article on CNN explores the issue in depth, and sheds some light on the mentality of the mothers who make these desperate decisions.

Debt is a heavy burden, and follows many of the girls in CGI’s programs. Many of them have shared stories of accrued family debt that they want to help alleviate, even at very young ages. Fighting trafficking is certainly a priority of CGI, but fighting poverty is our main focus. It is the underlying factor–the common thread–in so many trafficking narratives. Our programs in Cambodia emphasize vocational training in the hopes of freeing these girls from poverty, giving them the ability to make decisions apart from the influence of desperation.

Will you link arms with us in this fight? Sponsor a Program Participant

Progress at the Imprint Project

As most of you know, the Imprint Project is CGI’s newest program that began in December. The program consists of girls rescued from sexual slavery, as a collaborative effort between CGI and Destiny Rescue. They learn how to sew (you can find their products on the byTavi site under “Imprint Collection”) and receive spiritual mentoring, along with practical life skills and general education to prepare them for success apart from the sex trade. Now three months into the program, we are excited about the progress we’re seeing with each of these girls and wanted to share it with you!

Last week, the students learned how to make Cambodian formal wear and practiced beading. They each designed their own bead work and did such a great job applying what they’ve been learning and using their own creativity. Join us in praising God for the initiative they are taking to learn, grow and change.

It’s a small but very important step forward.

           bead work 3bead work 2

Here Comes the Sun…

dressFINALLY! At byTavi we are so ready to be DONE with the snow and sub-zero temps! We want to frolic in the sun in the new Imprint Collection, hand-made by at-risk women and survivors of trafficking. Whether you are going on a casual walk on the canal, a date with your significant other or a night out with the girls, Imprint is ready to dress you for any occasion. Check out our adorable new sundresses and zipper dress–you’re going to love them.

Stay tuned to byTavi in the coming months as the women in our program have been hard at work on a new line of bags! These include a casual, modern hobo bag and a patch-work rice bag mini duffle. You won’t want to miss these new items or our Spring Cleaning Sales!

Thanks again for supporting the women of byTavi and the Imprint Project. Your purchases truly do change the direction of these women’s lives.

CTC Graduation Day!

Chef Ryana and the CTC graduates

Chef Ryana and the CTC graduates

On Saturday, the first and second class of Culinary Training Center (CTC) students officially graduated from the program! These girls spent 18 months learning the art and craft of cooking and working in a restaurant from CGI’s resident chef, Ryana DeArmond. Last week was also another important milestone–the second “birthday” for the Green Mango Cafe in Battambang!

The graduation ceremony was a poignant event for the girls, staff, friends and supporters who have helped make this day happen. With the skills they’ve acquired, they are now equipped to find employment in the growing restaurant and tourism industry in Cambodia.

The capacity to turn their backs on the sex trade and use their education to earn income is a monumental step. Let’s praise God and celebrate with them!

Not Just Clothes

Kien Svay Kids in their new gym clothes

Kien Svay Kids in their new gym clothes

Last week, the children in our Kien Svay Kids program (part of CGI Kids) received new gym clothes. And here they are, grinning from ear to ear in their new outfits!

This photo warms our hearts because its a picture of more than just new clothes. It’s new opportunities and hope and excitement. It’s evidence of forward steps. So many of these children are trapped in a heartbreaking cycle of poverty and are gaining skills to help break free someday. We have already seen huge progress in their academic performances just since entering Kien Svay Kids, and we know its just the beginning!

Would you consider becoming a monthly supporter of CGI, and programs like these that help protect the vulnerable?