Bombs to jewellery

Young Heang, just three or four months of age, did not enjoy the fun of babyhood that is the ‘norm for many little ones, the world over. He lived in a refugee camp, together with his parents, in order to escape war-torn Cambodia, in the years captured, movingly, in ‘The Killing Fields’.

That was in 1980. Today, in one of life’s extraordinary ironies, Heang works with bombshells from the war, turning them into ‘peace jewellery’. There is no shortage of this raw material in Cambodia, with its tragic legacy of shells littering the landscape and, where unexploded, still claiming lives.

Heang works as a metalsmith for Rajana Crafts, a fair trade group that teaches its people valuable skills and then employs them, ensuring a fair return on their work. He cuts, solders and polishes the once deadly metal into necklaces and keychains. As well as producing a powerful message, Heang’s jewellery also gives him a ‘fair’ income, consistent with Rajana’s fair trade ethos, as he receives a salary he has never known before. Heang’s father drove a taxi and his mother sold vegetables to support their family. Now, Heang has enough to meet the needs of his own wife and children, and to finance his BA studies.

His products include small bells, on key chains, in this case unvarnished in order to  ‘tell the story’ of Cambodia’s tragic war years.

We are glad to support such products by selling them in the UK and helping give shoppers a shopping choice which benefits people on a fair trade basis.

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