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Empowering Elders: Unveiling the Untapped Potential of Handicrafts in Cambodia’s Rural Heart

In the heart of Cambodia’s rural landscape, a silent revolution is taking place—one that empowers the often-overlooked elderly artisans through the enchanting world of handicrafts. Fair Trade Village, with its visionary mission, is not just providing a marketplace for these skilled individuals but is also safeguarding the very essence of traditional knowledge.

For over two decades, Siem Reap has witnessed a surge in local handicraft production, predominantly targeting young women from impoverished rural households. However, amidst this positive change, the significance of handicrafts as a source of income for Cambodia’s elderly population has remained overshadowed.

Two decades ago, vibrant young weavers and carvers found joy and financial stability in handicraft production. Fast-forward to today, and we witness a shift. For example, Pah AW mat producers in Siem Reap’s rural villages now predominantly consist of skilled, elderly women over 60 years. Their craftsmanship is exceptional, and their livelihoods depend on the income generated through mat weaving—a norm rather than an exception.

In the present scenario, young individuals have diversified job opportunities, particularly in the thriving tourism sector. However, the importance of handicrafts for elderly citizens cannot be overstated. Often living in poverty and solitude, these individuals find solace, income, and purpose through the art of handicraft production.

Recognizing this unmet need, Fair Trade Village has taken a pivotal role in ensuring that elderly artisans gain access to the souvenir market. By integrating more handicraft products produced by elderly individuals, Fair Trade Village is not just offering economic support but is also preserving traditional techniques in products like bamboo baskets, Pa Ah mats, and traditional musical instruments.

As we envision a future where marketplaces and handicraft traders prioritize supporting the elderly, let’s celebrate the untapped potential of Cambodia’s rural artisans. Their stories are woven into every creation, embodying resilience, tradition, and the enduring spirit of craftsmanship.

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