• Cambodia is pronounced [kam-boh-dee-uh]
  • Cambodia is located in Southeast Asia, bordered by Thailand and Laos on the north and Vietnam on the east and south.
  • With a population of over 15 million, Cambodia is the 70th most populous country in the world.
  • Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in Asia. Today 13% of the population still live below the poverty line (earning less than $1.25 per day).
  • Access to acid in Cambodia has increased in the last years, resulting in a shaming practice called ‘acid attack’ being on the rise, especially targeting women. 

Trades of Hope is partnering with a group of women in Cambodia, some of whom have been the victims of a heart wrenching and awful practice called an “acid attack”, which is a form of shaming that illustrates the struggle of these women living in oppression. 

These women have escaped their oppressors and are pursuing healing. They are being empowered through sustainable business to create these beautiful handicrafts. This business is helping them provide for their families and heal through their creativity and independence. These women are given the gift of sustainable business that not only affects one person but whole communities for generations to come!


Co-Founder Gretchen With Ya
Meet Ya from Cambodia. She has faced many challenges in her life and felt the pain of being ostracized from her community. Ya is a survivor of a practice called acid attack or acid throwing. This is a form of punishment for women in certain areas in Cambodia. Many of these attacks are not foreseen and usually are initiated by an authority figure that feels disrespected by a woman.

Ya’s skin is permanently scarred and the mobility of her neck is limited because of what she has experienced. She describes the event in her own words below.”One day someone flung a container of acid in my face. It burned my face, and ran down my body, dissolving both my skin and my life. The excruciating extensive burns threatened to take my life for months, and since then I have had to endure numerous surgeries to attempt to re-make my features/face to be normal again. I now have to live with the scarring of my face and body, and also with the scarring on my heart. I have consistently been the subject of mockery, hatred, rejection, and curiosity, but rarely the subject of compassion or help.”

Despite this scarring event, Ya wanted to do something to help women like her through sustainable business.

“I am gradually trying to rebuild my life and to make a future for myself, but the only thing that gives me the courage to do that is that I know that I am not alone and that I may be able to do something to help others. I am starting this small business to make goods by hand so that other women in my condition, many of whom are left to raise their children on their own, can have the chance to earn their own living in safety and some measure of self-respect.”

Now, Ya has touched so many lives in Cambodia through her thriving business. She has moved from pain and fear to compassion and courage for the sole purpose of empowering women who have been abused and neglected. Even though this stirs up her own loss and pain, she shares she is strong enough to walk through it for the sake of loving the broken. She is a designer and business woman who is defining her own life through the empowerment of herself and others!



Thee smiling as she makes a product

Thee is one of the artisans in Ya’s group. Thee, like Ya, has also been acid attacked. Thee had accumulated a large debt from the medical and legal bills from her attack and her first husband abandoned her, which only added to her pain.

Now, Thee has been remarried and works with Trades of Hope’s partnered artisan group to provide stunning handcrafted products. Thee and her husband are no longer worried about being able to just survive because she is financially secure due to her business. She is paying off her debt, providing for her family, and looking forward to the bright future that she helped create through this empowering business!