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Creating a Future
Kea Botevy making jewelry with young Pearlologist
Like most stories from modern Cambodia, our story begins in April 1975, when Khmer Rouge party leader Pol Pot marched his teenage troops into Phnom Penh and forced everyone to leave their homes to work in the countrysides. Those too sick, too young, too old, anyone who resisted, were killed. After the mass killings, the relocations, the malnourishment, and the forced labor, 25% of the Cambodian population, an estimated 2 million people had died.
A teenager at the time, Kea Botevy, one of the survivors, started looking to rebuild her life. Instead of getting the opportunity to complete own schooling, she was told by the local authorities to use her 8th grade education to teach younger children.[2}
This assignment to teach led Kea to see the many needs of her country’s children and laid the foundation for what would eventually become Cambodian International Children and Friends Organization (CICFO), an orphanage that provides food, shelter, education and community. Started in 2005 with six children, it has grown to over 30 children.
The children, well cared for by Kea and the people who support CICFO had a good present, but what about their futures?
In 2013, with many of her children nearing 17,18 and 19 years of age, Kea needed a plan, a way to help the children establish savings for vocational training or college, so that they wouldn’t end up on the streets. Kea wanted to help them help themselves to a real future.
Wendy teaching future Pearlologists jewelry making techniques
That is where we comes in–literally. Lani (co-op director in the Philippines) went to Cambodia. There they met, played with (that’s a future blog post) and provided the training and materials for the children ages 16 and up to learn the art of jewelry making. The income they make from jewelry sales goes into a savings account for higher education. Now when the children leave the orphanage as young adults, they have a future–a future they created by creating jewelry.
Philippines co-op director and Pearlologist Lani modeling the Infinity bracelet made exclusively by our Cambodian artisans
You can help create futures for our young Pearlologist in Cambodia by buying the jewelry they handcraft. Your purchase will fund their future. Buy it here.