Hun Yoeun, 62

Weaver, owner of the weaving shop

I was a teenager during the Pol Pot regime so I didn’t have the opportunity to go to school. The Khmer Rouge made us leave our homes and we were separated from our families. I was put in a group with people my age and we were moved deep into the jungle. We were forced to work digging up soil and chopping down trees to make compost. Life during this time was very hard.

When the regime ended everyone went back to their homes by foot. We found our houses completely empty or burnt down. When I got back to my house I was finally reunited with my parents, we thought we would never see each other again.

The war had completely destroyed our society. Everyone had to work together to re-build homes, crops and businesses. People started to work together at the rice field as a community: everybody shared during this time. We were eating porridge to make our rice stock last longer. There was no currency so people started using gold to buy rice and then rice to buy food. At that time, I asked my mother to teach me how to weave. Having no education, I thought that this would be a useful skill for my future.

When I was 22, I started my own business in my province, Takeo. However, most families in the region had the same kind of silk weaving business and the market was very narrow. After a while it was no longer possible to make a profit. Most people ended up working in garment factories instead. I had the opportunity to move to Phnom Penh, where I started teaching weaving at an NGO. Eventually I moved to Siem Reap – I have always been attracted by these region, there is so much beauty and history here!

Right now I have my own silk and cotton weaving business in Bakong District. I have 10 weavers and I trained them all from the beginning. I joined AHA because they help to promote my business and give me access to different markets. They try to find new clients for me. Since we don’t speak English, AHA facilitates connections with internationals markets.