September 5, 2023

CAMACrafts Empowering Others Through Compassionate Community

CAMACrafts, a social enterprise located in the heart of Laos, was established by CAMA Services in 1990 to support Hmong refugees of the Vietnam War. Over the past thirty years, in partnership with the local church, CAMACrafts has transformed the lives of local families through fair wages, skills development, and safe working conditions while empowering women to become agents of change—all through the sale of handicrafts!

Finding Self-Support through Traditional Techniques

women holding sewn cloths with designs

While farming provides families in Laos with the means for food and shelter, many face challenges in making ends meet at the market. As a result, families struggle to afford essentials such as education and health care. Lao women take pride in their cultural heritage of beautiful handicraft skills that have been passed down for centuries from mother to daughter. Through CAMACrafts, local women can become producers and utilize traditional techniques such as embroidery, batik, and reverse applique to provide their families with a vital source of additional income, empowering them to afford their children’s education, medical care, and to have savings for unforeseen emergencies. In many circumstances, the money these women earn through CAMACrafts is the only source of income their families have.

CAMACrafts and COVID-19

hands stitching a design into cloth

For over two years, the effects of COVID-19 rippled across the world, and Laos was no exception. The country’s tourism industry, a vital lifeline for CAMACrafts, came to a grinding halt as international travel restrictions and visa limitations kept visitors at bay. The sudden drop in demand had a profound impact on CAMACrafts’ ability to retain all its talented producers, and many women CAMACrafts had come alongside were compelled to seek alternative sources of income, including factory employment. However, it is during times of great struggle and pain that the Lord’s love and compassion truly shine through. 

Because of your support, CAMACrafts continued throughout the pandemic and was able to begin producing handmade face masks. CAMACrafts’ face masks had a dual impact: providing work for the local producers that ensured fair wages and enabling the distribution of high-quality, fashionable face masks to many Laotians—including hundreds of children—who faced challenges in affording them. 

Christ’s Compassion Shown through Community

two women working over a sewing project

At one point during the pandemic, travel in and out of the capital city was shut down. A CAMACrafts staff member’s nephew had traveled far from another province to be treated for a serious illness, only to be told by doctors that there was nothing more they could do. The family had used up all their funds and could not leave due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions, and they were terrified that their son would die far from home, away from friends and relatives and without a proper funeral. 

Believers among the local CAMACrafts staff heard of the terrible situation their coworker and her family faced and were moved with deep compassion to help. They negotiated with the local hospital to hire an ambulance and a nurse to take the little boy and his family home. With the ambulance costing as much as a month’s wages, the believing staff also worked to get CAMA involved. The little boy’s aunt still remembers the sacrifices that her coworkers made of their time and resources to help get her family home, and she now listens a little more carefully when they tell her about the compassionate and all-powerful Father who is calling her to be His own. 

Will You Partner with Us?

By building authentic relationships, believers among the local CAMACrafts staff have been able to live out Christ’s compassion toward others. CAMACrafts is committed to empowering women with agency, to reaching those who have yet to experience the love of Jesus, and to extending the gift of everlasting hope. When you partner with the CAMA General Fund, you assist our staff in supporting CAMACrafts as it brings Christ’s love and hope to individuals and communities in need. Will you prayerfully consider giving a gift to the CAMA General Fund today so that lives may continue to be transformed and communities may continue to be restored in Laos?