Today’s post is written by Sarah, a CAMA worker in Southeast Asia.
CAMACrafts is a handicraft company in Laos, Southeast Asia encouraging women to use their traditional cultural skills to continue their livelihood and care for their families. The goal is to lead Lao and Hmong villagers toward self-sufficiency through a viable business as an aid to development. CAMACrafts’ products are entirely handmade by village women who use traditional patterns and techniques, such as Hmong appliqué, cross-stitch, embroidery, and batik.
CAMACrafts, along with their partner company Mulberries, are members of the World Fair Trade Organization. The organization defines fair trade as “a trading partnership based on dialogue, transparency, and respect that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers.”
But for CAMACrafts, fair trade is even more than that. It is an integral part of acknowledging the dignity that God created each person to have (Gen. 1:26-27) by:
- Providing safe and meaningful work shows we believe God has given our producers useful skills and abilities.
- Paying a fair wage shows we believe God values our producers as part of His creation.
- Training and capacity building show we believe God created our producers to have potential.
Mrs. Ny is an example of a producer who realizes her own dignity and worth. Ny first learned traditional Hmong appliqué embroidery as a little girl from her mother, who was also a CAMACrafts producer. Ny loved stitching so much that she would sneak time with her embroidery when she was supposed to be doing her homework. She joined the CAMACrafts production team when she was a young adult, and she was proud to earn her own spending money. She knew her family’s finances were tight, so she didn’t want to ask for money from her parents or grandparents.
In 2002, Ny joined CAMACrafts’ team of full-time staff at our main production center. She has continued to learn and improve her skills. Today she is responsible for tracking finished inventory and checking the quality of finished pieces. It is a joy to hear Ny confidently explain quality standards to producers, teaching them how they can improve their work. She does this with a ready smile that passes on dignity and value to the producers and encourages them to learn from their mistakes.
CAMACrafts has been blessed to see many women like Ny grow in their sense of dignity and worth through safe and meaningful work. It is our hope that these women will come to understand that ultimately this worth comes from being created in the image of the God who loves them.