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Human Trafficking prevention through safe education and employment for Cambodian women.

B L O O M   W I T H

COURAGE

the ability to do something that frightens; strength in the face of pain or grief: she called on all her courage to face the ordeal.

 
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Courage surfaced early in young Volek, who once faced a lonely battle of survival in the Minefield Village after being abandoned by divorced parents on the hunt for income in Thailand. Strength surfaced in the place of fear as she sought encouragement from a group of women working for LandMine Design. Volek quickly proved her dedication and proficiency, and was soon accepted as a full time employee. Now, Volek's fierce dedication allows her to provide for her “adopted” extended family with full time employment, while continuing her education. 

Volek demonstrates a bold courage to our staff as well as each of our makers, especially those younger than her.  She consistently choses to stare down poverty, abandonment, and even opposition as she faces the challenge of working and studying full time. She dares to dream of continuing her education, of becoming a doctor, and of bringing a medical clinic to the Village.  This humble determination showcases a heart overflowing with courage and leaves us watching in awe.

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Volek may live in one of the most impoverished parts of the world, where young women don’t envision a future of possibility, but she refuses to be a victim of fearful circumstance. Instead, she chooses to employ her heart to courageously dream of a future with endless possibility and a future free of poverty.

Wear Volek's story as an inspiration to bloom with a heart overflowing with courage to dream.

 

 

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B L O O M   W I T H

Hope

to look forward with desire, trust and reasonable confidence :  she hoped for positive change and freedom from fear.

 
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Chan, a tender and strong young woman living in poverty, has experienced a darkness many of us only read about. Her life is one of great struggle. She lives in a system where there are very little resources. Her husband soon becomes very violent caught in a cycle of alcohol abuse.  Chan often wonders if there's more to her life than barely keeping her 5 children fed and clothed. However, she has something inside her that's overcoming the darkness she faces. She has hope.  She embodies hope.  Hope is redefining her story.

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Chan chose not to be debilitated by her dark situation.  Hope rose from deep within her when she was introduced to a community of women who believed in a purpose for her life beyond struggle and darkness.  Hope moved Chan's desperate heart to be brave and seize an opportunity to learn and work safely with LandMine Design.  Hope made a way for her to get a new home when her hut was falling over and unlivable.  Hope made a way to enough food to eat and education for her children.

May Chan's depth of hopefulness in the midst of adversity speak to each of us never to give up; always keep fighting and come out on the other side, stronger. When hope comes, darkness trembles.  

Wear Chan's story as an inspiration to let hope bloom and fulfill your dreams.

 

 

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B L O O M   W I T H

BRAVERY

the quality or state of having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty: she had more than enough bravery to fight for freedom. 

 
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Vurn-husband

Vurn joined the LandMine Design program years ago when her family was desperate for income from safe and dignified employment.  Her husband was disabled, and was at a loss concerning how to approach their impoverished situation since he was unable to work.  Vurn bravely stepped into the position of being the bread winner for her family. Unfortunately debt and loans continued to accumulate and overruled Vurn's income, and eventually she had no choice but to leave for Thailand and work off a debt they owed.  

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We were moved by Vurn's decision to walk away from her dignified job, husband, her children and her home, to pay off a debt. It takes a brave woman to hug her children goodbye, not knowing when she'd see them again.  It takes a brave woman to become the breadwinner for her home, hoping her work will be "valuable enough".  It takes a brave woman to illegally cross a border and be treated like an unwanted visitor for countless months.  It takes a remarkable amount of bravery to ensure sure your family will have freedom. 

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As soon as her debt was paid Vurn returned to her family at home, and at Landmine Design. She was overjoyed to be welcomed back into a safe community of women, with an opportunity to earn an income from home, and a place to be educated for sustainable transformation. Vurn wears her story like a badge of bravery that fuels fearless determination as she continues to battle for her family to thrive above the trenches of poverty. Her story – her badge inspires us all to 'face the fight’

When fear beckons, let Vurn's story of bravery feed your fearlessness.

 

 

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B L O O M   W I T H

AMBITION

a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work: with ambition she is working for freedom

 
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Vurn-husband

Last year, thanks to an enormous order from another company (just wait until you hear that story!), we were able to hire additional women into Landmine Design and promote each artisan to full time employment…and pay.  Making such an enormous change in the midst of abject poverty had unique challenges and culpability.  We greatly felt the responsibility to teach our sweet ladies about the importance of budgeting and utilizing their new salaries wisely.

While most Americans have a hard time with budgeting and spending wisely, imagine the difficulty of doing so in the midst of intense poverty.  Such is the case for the women in our program, including a young mom named Son Sey.  A mother of one and a skillful lover of all things creative, Son Sey was a quick study, a quiet one of strength, and was always willing to take on additional assignments. 

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Budgeting meetings began with Son Sey (and every woman) individually.  We painstakingly developed a simple budget, listing out individual areas and the corresponding dollar amount needed to provide for their families.  Son Sey’s list included things like rice, milk, soap, loan repayment, food, savings, and money to help support her aging parents.  We taught about sticking to the budget and encouraged each woman to work hard at being disciplined.  Our expectations were low.  Budgeting is a completely new concept in the middle of a minefield so we weren’t surprised to learn the money management process wasn’t going well for the majority of our women.  Most were barely making it because they couldn’t follow their budget consistently.  Meeting with each woman individually was discouraging as we realized the road would be very long in learning, understanding and following a budget.  

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We sat down with Son Sey to go over her budget line by line and to our sweet surprise, Son Sey got it!  She had followed the budget faithfully and now, months later, had accumulated quite a nice savings.  In a country where savings don’t really exist, this was huge!  Son Sey had a goal.  She was determined to save enough money to build a new home and replace the lopsided hut in which her family had been living for years.  Her goal is ambitious and will take a long time to achieve, but Son Sey is determined.  She is a woman of ambition seeking to change the life and livelihood of her family for years to come.  

Wear a reminder of Son Sey's Story, let it inspire you to overcome any obstacle as you bloom with ambition.

 

 

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B L O O M   W I T H

HUMILITY

freedom from pride or arrogance :  the whole ordeal taught her humility.

 
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Two years ago, a sweet 16 year old girl named Srey Mom was a part of our Landmine Design program.  She was smart, compassionate, eager to learn, and simply stunning.  As a teenager, she was similar to her first-world counterparts in the dreamy desires for romance and the belief that the grass would be greener somewhere else.  With impulsiveness fitting to any 16 year old, Srey Mom decided to elope with her 17 year old boyfriend.

In the secret of night, with her husband-to-be, Srey Mom left her school, her job with Landmine Design, and the only home she had ever known to find new adventures in the greener grasses of Thailand. 

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With no identification, Srey Mom and her young husband soon realized their rights as immigrants were non-existent.  What’s more, their abilities to find jobs were extremely limited.  Somehow, they managed to find work as field hands on a Thai banana plantation. They made very little money. The work was hard and the conditions were primitive. They slept each night in the fields seeking shelter under the large banana tree leaves, hiding from immigration officials searching for illegal immigrants such as themselves.  Journeying to markets to find food was even a dangerous adventure as traffickers lurked to find beautiful prey to trap; Srey Mom learned to avoid their hunt and stayed close to the ’safety’ of the banana fields.  Srey Mom dug deep into her being to find the grit and determination to continue in those fields.  It was also during these long and fear-filled days that Srey Mom spent countless hours crying, wishing she was back in her beloved village.  

Fast forward to a few months ago when Srey Mom and her husband decided to return to the village that had been their home as children.  The greener grass of Thailand proved to be far more dangerous and ugly than they could have imagined.  It took several weeks after arriving in the village for Srey Mom to gather the courage to return to Landmine Design and the family she once knew from there.  Srey Mom was welcomed back with jubilant excitement by each and every woman in the program.  With her Landmine Design sisters, she shared about the hard life she had experienced in Thailand, the fears and darkness that hung over them the entire time.  They listened.  They cried with her.  They simply hugged and loved her.  

After a couple months, Srey Mom asked, in utter humility, if it would be possible to be hired back into the program.  What joy it was to offer her a new spot in the program.

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Srey Mom is a different woman today.  The harsh world she experienced while working on a banana plantation has changed her. There is a certain sadness in her eyes as she watches other girls her same age — former classmates — who made different choices.  These girls are not married; they did not leave the safety of their home and village to see and experience the exploitative world in which Srey Mom lived; they continue in their education as well as their employment.  The contrast is stark.  It is true, the sadness and regret is present as Srey Mom adjusts to her new reality.  But there’s something else present as well.  Srey Mom has a posture now that is laced with a beautiful humility.  Not a humility that breaks the spirit; rather, it is a humility born out of adversity, struggle, and survival.  It is a humility that now adorns her like a graceful crown.  

While we wish Srey Mom had made different choices, our hearts are overwhelmed that she has returned.  And we are honored to, once again, employ this changed woman into the Landmine Design Family…and equally honored to share her story with you.

Wear a reminder of Srey Mom's story that fuels life-changing humility.

 

 

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B L O O M   W I T H

LAUGHTER

an expression or appearance of merriment or amusement: her contagious laughter filled the room and abolished fear.

 

A common experience while visiting the village is a case of the giggles, instigated by Landmine Design maker and mother of 4, Lee. With one casual comment to a friend Lee will cause an entire room to erupt with all-consuming laughter. Though we often fail to comprehend the inspiration behind Lee's Khmer comments, it is nearly impossible to avoid joining in!

Amidst the stressful circumstances of mothering a large family in poverty, Lee remains unshaken. Her creative outlets of jewelry design, tapestry weaving and friendship fuel a peaceful vitality that allows humor to flourish and heal the fear surrounding her. 

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We cherish Lee's laughter as our universal language in the village; it breaks the barrier and fear of miscommunication, and builds in its place communal strength. Lee’s sense of humor is a gift that joyously feeds our Landmine Design community.

Wear Lee's story as in inspiration to bloom with laughter that does the same for you. 

 

 

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