Disabled People Lose Income as Bag Sales Drop

Chin Sokchea is performing her works at Khmer Craft Center in Kampong Thom province.

COVID disrupts market for recycled sugar sacks

PHNOM PENH--More than 300 disabled workers have lost income after COVID led to a drop in sales of eco-bags they recycle from sugar sacks at the Khmer Craft Center in Kampong Thom province.

Chuon Sreylen, who suffers from paraplegia and has been working at the center for more than six years, said she was worried because there had been no customers since the outbreak.

“I want customers to help buy more eco-bags from us so that we can make a living,” she said. “As a person with disabilities, it’s very difficult to find a job. I rely only on this business.”

The center, in  Baray village, was created in 2014 by a Fair Trade certified handicrafts organization called Villageworks. It aims to empower women to achieve sustainability and self-sufficiency.  

Chin Sokchea is also worried. She said she could not find another job amid the pandemic.

“We, the disabled people, sew these eco-bags with care because we really love our jobs,” Sokchea said. “I can only make more than about 10 bags a day because I’m unable to work like normal people.”

She could not earn enough to support herself because of the decline in customers. She urged people to keep supporting them, especially during the pandemic.

Center owner Nom Bunnak has seen the hardship of her staff as orders decline.

“Due to COVID-19, there are not many buyers,” she said. “Therefore, they don’t have much work and their income decreases accordingly. It’s really difficult for them.”

Bunnak said support from customers was crucial for people with disabilities because they could rely only on this job, adding that using eco-bags could also help protect the environment.

One eco-bag costs 5,000 riel. Anyone interested can contact the center at 017 388 018 or 095 261 3017 and through Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/EcoBagcambodia/.

Additional reporting by Teng Yalirozy

Related Articles