Monday, March 7, 2011
A Day in the Life of a Nomi Seamstress
Every weekday morning at 7 a.m., a group of women arrive at a social enterprise in Cambodia. These women are not ordinary by any means, and have lived through more than many of us can imagine. These women are Nomi social enterprise employees.
Their daily routine goes like this: if they have children they drop them off at the daycare center in the factory, then begin a much needed group time to start their work day. This group time centers around words of encouragement in preparation for their new day. Around 7:30 a.m. each woman chooses a treadle sewing machine to delicately sew together the pieces of what we know as the Nomi bag.
A few hours later, they are alerted to signify the end of the morning sewing session and the workers are off to lunch. A common Khmer lunch can sometimes consist of white rice and prahok, a pungent fish paste, and is often shared among all the women—as sharing meals is common etiquette of Khmer culture. After the lunch break, the lights are turned off throughout the factory and the women are given the option of napping or attending the free English class offered by their employer. After their break the work commences until 4:00 p.m., when they pick up their children and their work day officially ends.
And among the sewing sessions and classes, between the group time and the childcare, there are conversations, laughter, smiles, a word of encouragement, sometimes tears. Relationships based on trust and the consistency of a daily routine is being developed, and a community is being built. Nomi Network are constantly looking to strengthen and encourage this community, and to cast a vision for a future where these women will have both the opportunities and the freedom to make decisions that will empower them and their families.
- Kala Brust