**RE-POST FROM GIFTS OF HOPE NEWSLETTER. **
Empowering Acid Attacked Women in Cambodia
Trades of Hope is so excited to be partnering with women in Cambodia! Many of these women have been the victims of a heart wrenching and awful practice called 'acid attack.' Because of this, many of them live in shame of what has been done to them.
Through Trades of Hope, many of these women have been able to start a business creating beautiful hats and Christmas ornaments for us! Keep an eye out for these products in our Fall catalog.
One of the women, Jariya, has become a leader in her community, and she helps other acid attacked women earn an income and a better life. Her work has given her hope for a future! When we found out that she needed English lessons in order to continue creating a business, we knew we had to help! We know that by Jariya taking English lessons, she will be able to touch so many lives. She has already added many women to her business and they are so excited for this opportunity. Please take the time to read Jariya's story below.
"My name is Jariya. One day someone flung a container of acid in my face. It burned my face, and ran down my body, dissolving both my skin and my life. The excruciating extensive burns threatened to take my life for months, and since then I have had to endure numerous surgeries to attempt to re-make my features/face to be normal again. I now have to live with the scarring of my face and body, and also with the scarring on my heart. I have consistently been the subject of mockery, hatred, rejection and curiosity, but rarely the subject of compassion or help. I am gradually trying to rebuild my life and to make a future for myself, but the only thing that gives me the courage to do that is that I know that I am not alone, and that I may be able to do something to help others. I am starting this small business to make goods by hand so that other women in my condition, many of whom are left to raise their children on their own, can have the chance to earn their own living in safety and some measure of self-respect."
One of our in-country missionaries wrote this about Jariya and the acid attacked women.
"I think the best way to explain what happened to these women is to think about a grief we have. Usually we want to share our tragedy, our loss only with those with whom we choose. If we have been raped, or lost a loved one, or our heart has been broken, we usually are very careful about who we share this with. But for these women, their greatest tragedy, their life-altering loss, is written on their faces. So for them to show their faces is not just a matter of someone else seeing their physical scars; it is exposing this most personal tragedy to the eyes of everyone - the kind and understanding, and also the callous and uncaring, as well as the careless and oblivious. We would be deeply affected were we to walk about wearing t-shirts that said "grieving mother", "rape victim", "abandoned wife", "unwanted child", "unemployed father". The scars on these women's faces are like those t-shirts, but they can't be taken off. Everywhere they go, they are seen only through the lens of this life-shattering event; it becomes their identity, so they can't just be another shopper in the market, or student in a class, or rider on a bus, or pedestrian on the street, or customer in the bank, or patient in the doctor's office. Always this part of their identity is emblazoned on their faces.
They each tell themselves that this wouldn't have happened were they not poor, or had they had a father who protected them, or had they had more personal value. So the scarring is not just an exposure of the shame of the event, but the exposure of who they are that such a thing could have happened to them. It "proves" that they are somehow worthless, expendable, unloved, unvalued. "
Trades of Hope believes that these women are loved, valued, and have a voice that needs to be heard. Our in-country missionary has shared with us that Jariya and the acid attacked women now have a reason to get up in the morning and have purpose. They now know how to hope for more. Sustainable business for them, is not about money or poverty, but it is about hoping for a future that they once thought they had lost.
Help us support these women by purchasing their products this fall and continue to keep them in your prayers!