ABOUT WEAVES OF CAMBODIA
Weaves of Cambodia has its origins in an organization established in the early 1990s by the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF) founded by Bobby Muller and 1997 Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams. Originally created to assist landmine survivors and other disabled individuals with the manufacturing of their prosthesis, it became clear in the early 1990s that those with a prosthesis also needed a job if their lives were truly to be changed.
Veterans International, an offshoot of VVAF established the humanitarian assistance weaving project in 1996 to help Cambodia's large number of amputees. Cambodia has one of the highest landmine casualty rates in the world as a legacy of decades of war. The purpose of pilot project was to create a self-sustaining community of artisans in rural Preah Vihear comprised of landmine survivors, widows, orphans and the disabled.
Bud Gibbons of VVAF Cambodia had the idea of weaving silk, a traditional Khmer craft in prewar Cambodia and producing silk accessories for foreigner buyers. He brought in artisans to build looms and train staff. Over time, he made contact with weaver and textile designer Carol Cassidy, who provided training and advice. Gradually, the quality of the products improved and interest in their silks began to spread beyond the region.
Carol was asked to take over the operation in 2001 when it was clear that VVAF would not be able to continue its support of the project. Growing involvement in advising the project on products and designs was among the factors that drew Carol in; the response of the workers to her advice and instructions was another.
Today, the project employs over 40 farmers, spinners, dyers, weavers and finishers, most of whom are disabled.
It is a significant contributor to the local economy. As the enterprise has grown, Khmer staff have increasingly planned and managed the work themselves and the recent addition of more Khmer senior staff has taken the operation further down the road to self-sustainability and long-term success. The project now produces export-quality silk scarves, shawls and yardage sold around the world under the Carol Cassidy Weaves of Cambodia label.
“ The determination and hope of these artisans has been the motivation for me. These are individuals who have survived Pol Pot, landmines, and the failure of traditional philanthropy. When you make a commitment to people, you have an obligation to see it through.“ – Carol Cassidy
“Weaves of Cambodia silk scarves swaddle the buyer in sumptuousness while opening a world of possibilities to the land-mine survivors of Tbeng Meanchey, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold.” – TIME Magazine
Our client list includes: Asia Society, Smithsonian Museum, Guggenheim Museum, Textile Museum, International Interior Designers