It is fascinating to watch how rattan furniture and handcrafted mats are pieced together by local artisans. A small house bordering one of Along Veng's busiest roads showcases several of these handmade furnishings in front while storing equipment and excess supplies behind large wooden doors. The furniture is the products of a new village initiative, one that joins the efforts of 25 families in the area.
Only 15 days ago 25 family representatives from Lumtong Thmeiy village families attending a training course on Rattan furniture making. The course was facilitated by the Cambodian Forestry Department. The participants were given the meager, yet necessary tools to commence a small home business ie. carving tools and a blowtorch to heat and bend bamboo... The only thing lacking was the cooperation of these now skilled workers to make the business take off. Thankfully, FH staff were happy to jump in.
"Our role in this project is encourage the group to work together." says FH staff, Celia. Cambodians are known to work alone but since having FH in the community, many have learned the value of working together as a group.
"We now have men making the frames for our furniture, and women weave the small bamboo pieces around the frames to complete the pieces." Says one of the group members, who also belongs to an FH savings group. His savings group lent him money for the gas needed to drive the lengthy distance needed to gather bamboo supplies for the furniture.
Since the training, which was only a few weeks ago, the families have already sold two sets of furniture including a table and chairs. The tables sell for 20$ US and the chairs for 7$ to 10$ a piece.
So far the sets have been sold to others in the community yet the group hopes to expand their business. The members who attending training have already begun to teach other family members the tricks to carving, soaking, bending and weaving bamboo into many home decorations. They look forward to where the business might take them.