Sokhom’s* Story, an Imprint student (2017-2018).
Sokhom was born in a family with four children – all girls. Sokhom is the third daughter in her family. Her dad is a moto-taxi driver and construction worker; her mother is a factory worker. When Sokhom was 13 years old, in order to earn money to support her family, she went to work at a karaoke club where men go to drink, sing and be entertained by the hostesses. It was there that she was rescued by one of CGI’s partner organizations. Once rescued, she was encouraged to learn a vocation. She had always dreamed to be a tailor like her mother, so she chose to learn sewing. She enrolled in the Imprint Project program for one year to learn how to sew and take general education and life skills classes. She was very excited to get the chance to learn sewing with Center for Global Impact (CGI).
She worked hard toward her goal of becoming a tailor. There were many obstacles during her year, such as forgetting lessons, missing some classes due to her family’s needs and not having transportation to come to class. However, she never gave up on her studies. She was one of the smartest students in the sewing class. Sokhom often used her free time to create her own designs and made clothes for herself and family. After one year, her dream became true! She was able to pass her exams in all classes. She received her graduation certificate, as well as a $400.00 graduation gift from CGI to help her achieve her goal of being a tailor. Sokhom was a proud girl on the day of her graduation ceremony. Her parents came to celebrate her success and her mother was very happy for her.
She collected all the money she had to build a small shop near her house. Sokhom now owns a small tailor shop in her hometown which is about 45 minutes away from the city. However, she was nervous after she left the program because she wasn’t sure she could succeed in her sewing without help from the teachers. She often called the teachers and asked some questions regarding the clothes she was making.
After Sokhom’s shop had been open for about three months, Seiha (former CGI Phnom Penh Operations Director) and Chenda (Imprint Project Team Leader) went to visit Sokhom’s shop to show her their support. She now creates her own designs based on pictures from the internet and makes party dresses for rent. Her customers come to her shop to rent the dresses which cost $10 to rent. Some customers have asked her to make skirts, as well as to alter wedding dresses. She said that she often makes around $10/day income. Sometimes she also sells dresses for $50 (they cost about $25 to make). Sokhom said “I was very happy that I could have my own tailor shop even though it’s not big. I will save the money that I make every day to grow my shop and make more dresses for rent and to sell”. Her mother states that “I never dreamed of seeing her have this skill. We were poor and she did not get to study much. I’m so thankful for CGI who always help the poor, especially my daughter to have this skill”.
*Name and photo have been changed to protect the identity of the Imprint Project graduate. Sokhom is a Cambodian name that means “safe; happy”.
-Story originally submitted by Seiha, former CGI Phnom Penh Operation Director