Our goal is to empower Karen refugee women to generate income for themselves and their families. The project started in 2003 to provide advanced training in weaving and sewing for women in the camps and to source weaving and sewing materials, thus increasing women’s capacity to cre ate garments of a quality high enough to sell in competitive markets. The project is now fully implemented in Mae La Oo, Mae Ra Ma Luang, Umphiem and Noh Poe camps. In Ban Dong Yan camp, KWO provides cash to the camp based KWO staff so that they can source thread and materials themselves.
KWO provides a dedicated group of skilled weavers, sewers and embroiderers in the camps with materials, needles and thread to create traditional Karen products. The project encourages women to preserve Karen tradition by using traditional practices and designs in the products. The number of weavers and sewers has declined from over 250 in 2008, and nearly 400 in previous years. This decline is because of resettlement, and because there has been a cut in funding for conducting training to develop skills of other women in the camps.
The products created by women in the camps are sold in the shop in our Mae Sot Resource Centre, and sold via postal orders to resettled Karen people. The income from the sales is spent in two ways: part of it is given to the women in the camps who create the products; the other part is returned to the project to cover project materials and running costs for the shop.