Srey Keo works with our partner workshop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as a workshop assistant. This is her story in her own words:
My parents separated from each other when I was 6 years old and I was sent to a school far away from them. I studied until I was 13 years old, but then my father got sick and I had to stop. That was when I started being a factory worker.
I worked at a garment factory in town. In the factory I had to pay to rent a room, and I was also trying to earn money to send back to my family to take care of them. I did not like working in the factory. There were so many people working there and it was very crowded. The managers in the factory were very strict and would not let the workers talk to each other, and they kept us very long hours. There were also many other young girls my age working at the factory. The working age in Cambodia is supposed to be 18 but they said because we were not sewing, just doing smaller jobs like cutting and cleaning, it was okay for us to work.
After a few months of this work, my mother came and put me in a program where I could study and learn a vocational skill. That is how I found the sewing workshop where I am now. I like this job much better than the garment factory. The work environment is good, and I can talk with the other women here. They are my friends and I am very happy with them. Also, the pay is better here and now I am able to live near my family and see them more.
Now I have my own skills and am being trained in how to improve and grow. I like the way we work here. The first time I came here I started learning to do the printing. Now I have improved my skills and can do even more to help make the products. It makes me feel so good to see people where the things I help make!
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