The third country Shanan and I visited on our artisan tour in Asia was Cambodia. The people of Cambodia have endured a great deal in a span of time shorter than my lifetime. Here is a very brief history; after the Vietnam War spread to Cambodia, the communist Khmer Rouge regime took power. What followed was years of devastation, mass killings, torture and fear. From 1975 to 1979, led by the Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, there was a reign of terror in this small country.
Over 200,000 members of the Karen Tribe in Burma (Myanmar) have been displaced due to political turmoil and persecution. As many as 160,000 of them live in refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border. The Karen are not Burmese, they were there long before Burma existed. They aren't Thai, even though many residents of the camps were born in Thailand. In the 20 years the camps have existed a whole generation of children have grown up there and are starting to have children of their own.
There is a house in a quiet village in India where women meet on average once per week. They gather to sort fabrics, quilt, patch, stitch, sew and most importantly, for fellowship. Some women live nearby, and some walk a mile or more to go there. They are a spirited bunch led by a spirited woman named Sushmita. At this house, with these women, we had our first face-to-face visit with our artisans...
Shanan and I just returned from an absolutely life changing month traveling in Asia, meeting women artisans who create beautiful, handmade products for Buy The Change. We also spent time with many of the amazing, caring people who work for cooperatives and non-profits (NGOs) helping women get their products to us and to you. We had hoped to be blogging while we were on the road but unfortunately discovered we could not access our contact lists on the mobile devices we had with us. Many of you were following along via Facebook and Instagram.