Sra Srong is known locally as a basket weaving community. Here, many of the women are skilled in the craft of weaving baskets from rattan cane which grows naturally in the surrounding jungle areas. Much of their day is spent gathering the rattan cane and stripping it of its skin and spines in readiness for weaving. Once enough cane is prepared, a skilled weaver can complete one basket in about an hour.
The small village of Sra Srong Khang Tbong comprises approximately 30 very poor families with an average of 4-6 children per family. It is one of 5 villages of about the same size that form SRA SRONG COMMUNITY.
Located quite close to the famous Angkor Temples in Siem Reap Province, this community is nevertheless very remote from essential services such as running water, electricity and healthcare.
Access to the village is by a sandy track that fills with large puddles during the wet season and thick sand during the dry. The main method of transport for villagers is by bicycle. There is no local market for them to buy food and supplies and the local Primary School is around 3km away, making it difficult for children to get to school.
The majority of adults within the community have little or no education and most are unable to read or write. This severely limits alternative prospects for higher paid employment.
Many children do not go to school because their families cannot afford to send them. Instead they help mum by looking after younger siblings or perhaps searching for rattan cane in the jungle so that she has more time to spend making more baskets to sell, thereby hoping to increase the income of the family. Spare money for school uniforms, learning materials and additional school payments is difficult to find and an added burden to many of these families.
As with many rural communities in Cambodia, the aim is to build a strong and sustainable social and economic structure that will provide the basis for generations to come to build brighter futures for themselves. We will be working with the villagers of Sra Srong in ongoing programs that build greater reliability into their collective basket weaving business and create additional food sustainability through community farming.
There is no other industry in the area so many of the men go to surrounding areas each day looking for work as unskilled construction labourers and farm hands. If they are lucky enough to pick something up, the average income they may receive is around $5 per day.
The women rely on the sale of their baskets to supplement their husband's income. Periodically, seasoned traders come through the community to buy the baskets but the women have no bargaining power and the price they receive is very much at the whim of the trader and usually very low. The uncertainty of their husband's work and the unreliability of the sale price for their baskets makes it a struggle for families to make ends meet from week to week.