If you have an hour or two spare in Siem Reap, we can take you to visit Artisans d’Angkor to experience traditional Cambodian handicraft skills. They have dedicated themselves to rebuilding the artistic heritage of Cambodia which was decimated by years of war, with many skilled craftsmen killed. The original Chantiers-Écoles professional training school, in Siem Reap, was founded in 1992 to help young Cambodians rediscover traditional skills and give them the opportunity to take part in the rebuilding process their country was undertaking.
As well as teaching laquerwork, stone and wood carving, they are now producing wonderful raw and finished silk products from their silk farm just outside Siem Reap, where you can visit and see them in action. They will guide you through the whole process from silk worm to silk scarf - it’s quite amazing to see their intricate work and nimble fingers as they spin and weave the thread and the beautiful colours that come out at the end.
The Artisans have built a very successful business in top quality silk but their underlying purpose remains to help poor rural women from local villages by teaching skills and giving them jobs in the factory. This has enabled them to earn up to $120 per month plus overtime and has transformed the prospects over their 1000 employees.
33 year old Los Sere says ‘I feel now fulfilled at Artisans d’Angkor because I could accommodate my first vocation to teach by sharing my mastered skills with young future artisans, as I did before. Above all, I lead my own work now as a polychrome technician which enables me to collaborate for the production of the most beautiful artwork of Khmer art patrimony for design department as prototype for our collection or as for special orders, with four others persons. In parallel, my family lifestyle had improved because Artisans d’Angkor offers me insurance, health care, salary and I expect within the next years to continue growing professionally in the company.’
It just goes to show that the right approach to community based tourism can create multiple benefits and a great experience for visitors and host communities alike, and we are very pleased that this was recognised with a 2013 Responsible Tourism Award for “Best in Community Engagement and Development”.
- Location: Siem Reap
- Activities: Handcrafts, textiles, shopping
- Trip Tip: A great way to spend a few hours