If you love our stretchy-soft Bamboni blankets, than you may have seen our unique Khmer blankets (pronounced Kahm-Mai and meaning, "Cambodian") on the Saranoni shelves, but do you know the story behind this remarkable blanket? The story of the Khmer blanket and our involvement with Vision Cambodia is simple, but powerful and dear to our hearts.
We were introduced to the work that Vision Cambodia was doing by our dear friends Rob and Erin Brunt, connections we had from college. Rob and Erin met Chantha South on a trip to Cambodia where he was working as a tour guide in 2016. Like many other children in Cambodia, Chantha was a victim of severe poverty and neglect throughout his childhood. His father was never to return from the civil war and his mother was destitute and unable to care for him. He suffered terrible living conditions and heartbreaking abuse as a child slave after he was sent to live with family, who were exploitative and treated him terribly. He escaped his abusers at age 13 and left his village with only ten cents in his pocket. He was able to find refuge at a Buddhist Monastery and studied hard to receive his education and learn English, after which he was able to receive a University Degree and founded Vision Cambodia.
Vision Cambodia is Chantha's way of helping children who are suffering through the same challenges that he did as a child and knows all too well. Upon hearing South's story, the Brunt were inspired to do their part to provide relief however they could. Consequently, Rob and Erin along with Troy Peterson founded the U.S. Chapter of Vision Cambodia. Vision Cambodia now provides relief and assistance across a variety of fronts including digging wells to provide clean water to families, building free schools and sponsoring education.
Another way that Vision Cambodia provides assistance is through the Baby Birth Fund program. One day while scouting school locations, Rob heard what he described as a, "commotion" and after further investigation, came across a woman giving birth in a rice field. Shocked, Rob learned that while this was an unfathomable situation for many women in the world, this was not an uncommon occurrence for many women in the area. The costs of traveling to a medical clinic, staying for a day or two and traveling home totaled about 30 dollars, a largely unaffordable cost. This phenomenon contributes to a high infant mortality rate in Cambodia, a heart breaking norm. The Baby Birth Fund was created as a way to sponsor women and give them a chance to give birth in a safe, clean place with medical assistance and resources.
When we learned of the situation of these women in Cambodia, we couldn't wait to help. Cambodia has a rich history of blanket weaving, and we were privileged to be able to connect with these amazing families through our shared love of beautiful blankets and our strong values of family. We began work on the Khmer blanket immediately, inspired by the traditional patterns of Cambodian artisans. A percentage of every Khmer blanket sold goes towards sponsoring a Cambodian mother and her child. These contributions are providing real and significant improvements to the lives of the people that receive them.
Upon launching the Khmer blanket, we were fortunate enough to be able to sponsor 75 hospital births with the sales from only the first day, which brought us an immense amount of joy. Fortunately, our work with Vision Cambodia is ongoing! If you are interested in supporting these amazing women and their children, consider purchasing a Khmer blanket or visiting https://www.visioncambodia.org/about to learn more!