Saturday, February 26, 2011

Getting Clothes Made, and the Asian Hope Fun-Fair

As you may know from looking inside the labels of your underwear and t-shirts, Cambodia is a big garment producer. In fact, garments are 70% of Cambodia's export trade. But since energy costs are about triple here what they are in Vietnam, and since the ports and roads are so bad, Cambodia hasn't been able to work up the value chain from underpants and t-shirts to sweaters, jackets and handbags like Vietnam and Sri Lanka, for instance. I'm curious about the garment-makers and also personally interested in the options for getting clothes made-to-order here (which seems to do better for the garment-maker's profits than factory work). And it so happens that one block to the left of our front door is a fabric and tailoring district. So as a first try, we took Tika, our little guinea pig, to the fabric shops on Saturday morning. We're going to get some dresses made to order for her. After a few failed attempts at explaining "dress" and "please make" and "this girl here" to people who spoke no English, we landed in one store that let me have a pen and sketchpad. They measured Tik, and she got to look at the fabrics and choose. We have ordered two cotton summer dresses, and I think they'll be ready in the next day or two (I couldn't understand that part of the discussion, either). Anyway, with fabric at $4 and labor at $4 per dress, I feel a little bad to be getting such a good deal on them. But I also thought it's one small thing we can do to employ people.
 From the tailor, we headed to the Asian Hope Community Fun Fair, that had nice, family-friendly games, bake sale, balloons and stuff. All the proceeds go to the umbrella organization that runs the kids' school and another program for Khmer orphans. It was just good wholesome fun, and also nice to be in a place where the kids could run free for a while.