By Amanda Wang and Lim Zhee Yen

VillageWorks is directly affiliated to Girls’ Brigade Singapore, which is the sole distributor of the beautiful handmade bags, shawls and pouches made from scratch (even the looms are handmade) by the Cambodian women of the Song Khem Collection.


The hand-loomed fabrics are attractive and colourful. The details and quality are on par with what you might find in a departmental store, and for a good reason too. Having made bags and shawls since 2001, and additional training by volunteers since then, helped the women hone their craft.

(Picture from VillageWorks)

When Girls’ Brigade (GB) arrived in the Baray district of Cambodia, VillageWorks was conceived to help the women there make a living. As there were no jobs there previously, people lived in slums. For most women, the choice was between rummaging through garbage daily in hopes of finding something worth selling, or becoming a prostitute.

Back then, there was also a factory that made bags, which GB adopted and turned into what the Song Khem Collection is today. There, children are also taught how to sew after school; they are then given some pocket money to buy things like stationery for themselves.

spinningyarn (Picture from VillageWorks)

Presently, the Song Khem Collection has become self-sustainable, but GB continues to aid them by purchasing a certain amount of products yearly from them to sell in Singapore.

This is done as fairly as possible, as Sales Manager, Susan Lee, 59, explained: “We are doing fair trade. Being fair to the workers, you don’t pay them peanuts for their piece of work.” The Cambodian women are paid according to how many pieces they make. This way, those who work faster or are more hard working will be able to earn their fair wages.

If there are profits, these will aid other Girls’ Brigade projects in countries like Indonesia, Philippines and Myanmar.

GB Headquarters
795 Upper Serangoon Road
Singapore 534667

Between $5 to $40
Shawl $20
Items can also be custom-made and custom designed if ordering 50 or more pieces.