Search on fair trade purses and you’ll likely see a number of results for recycled rice and feed bags. These colorful and practical purses have changed the lives of hundreds of Southeast Asian women. particularly Cambodian women.
Cambodia is a key focus because it’s a country where thousands of women and children are trafficked every day. Cambodia experiences significant internal and cross-border trafficking and is a country of origin, transit and destination. The majority of Cambodian victims of cross-border trafficking are sent to Thailand and Malaysia. Internally, victims of trafficking are sent to major tourist centres in Cambodia such as Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville where the sex trade is most popular.
StopStart, an international non-profit, trains women rescued from human trafficking in design, sewing, language, and business skills. The technical skills they’ve gained have enabled many of the women to move onto other jobs or open their own businesses.
Rather than contributing to landfills, rice and feed bags are cleaned and cut into patterns for messenger, overnight, and shoulder bags. The purses are truly unique because each rice bag has variations in its striking patterns and colors.
One simple idea that turns utilitarian rice bags into charming purses has created productive, healthy and free lives for trafficked women.
Source: StopStart International