COVID-19 has been a challenge worldwide, and at Sonas to America, one of our goals is to do our part in helping others through this crisis. In the Sonas village in Cambodia, where all of our products are handmade and where our team of 15 talented female artisans and their families live, COVID-19 has been uniquely difficult as most of the income they earn is generated from tourism. For this reason, Sonas to America is extremely grateful to all of our customers as they provide us with the means to support the village during these tough times. For more details about the situation in Cambodia right now, here are a few words from Paul Gill, founder of Sonas World, who is living in the Sonas village currently:
"2020 was a tough year for all of us around the world, however, it was even more difficult for the people at the grassroots. Everyone here in Cambodia was in complete shock between March and July as the fear of the unknown had taken control and the main sources of income, for 80% of the people being tourism and fashion manufacturing businesses, vanished very quickly. Most of the development projects were paused or disappeared and the vulnerable communities were left on their own to deal with their challenges. Sonas community was able to get back on its feet within two months after the first breakout in March 2020.
Everyone in Cambodia was looking forward to 2021 and thought things will magically improve. This turned out to be untrue and we were hit by the second and third outbreaks. Since Jan, the number of infections has increased 4X climbing to over 1500 cases within 2 months. This sent shock waves and the struggling businesses have started to shut down at an alarming speed.
Sonas communities, however, continue to thrive and innovate. The key factors for making it happen are - First, to increase our market reach and find more ethically conscious customers who can support us by buying our products, and second is to develop new value-adding products that have more benefits to the customers."
When talking about the impact that Sonas to America has had on the village, Paul mentioned that we have "contributed more than 70% to [their] success" which "has allowed [them] to sustain [their] operations and keep the 15 people in the Weaving project busy" and has enabled them to "fund two more university students through scholarships." Paul also noted that Sonas to America has "inspired so many people (most importantly, the Sonas team on the ground) and it is starting to pull more like-minded people into [their] family of change-makers." The Sonas team is so proud of the village for their hard work during these difficult times, and of our customers for choosing to support small businesses that make an impact! Please continue to do so, because as consumers, you have real power to make a difference! Lastly, we would deeply appreciate any donations, which help offset expensive shipping costs and VAT taxes that come with importing products from Cambodia; covering these costs allows us to make more profit, which we can then donate back to the village. We thank you for all of your support!