Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mekong Blue

Silkworms doing what they do best at Mekong Blue in Stung Treng
With football taking a front seat in recent days, the topic to suffer has been the review of my recent trip along the Mekong River and into the northern reaches of Cambodia. I have already brought you my adventures in and around Kratie and then we continued north, by minibus to Stung Treng. I don't know if its something to do with border towns, but I didn't really warm to the town or its people as readily as I do elsewhere, but that was probably due to the motodop mafia that we encountered and who certainly left a bitter taste in our mouths, but more of that later. One visit we made, where we were warmly welcomed, was to the Mekong Blue center a few kilometres outside of town. I'd been aware of this Stung Treng Women's Development NGO for a few years but this was my first chance to visit them in person and though it was lunchtime when we arrived, and nearly everyone was asleep or resting, we had a quick tour with their latest volunteer, Mike Cussen, where we saw the process from silkworm feeding to production of a very high quality silk product, which they sell online and in their Phnom Penh showroom. Over 50 women are employed making Mekong Blue products, giving these otherwise vulnerable women a skill, confidence and development and a safe haven for them and their children. They are a thriving enterprise with big plans for the future to carry on and expand the wonderful humanitarian work they have completed so far. Long may they continue. Link: Mekong Blue.
These are cocoons of naturally produced yellow silk collected from the silkworms and ready for boiling
In a specially sealed room, the silkworms are fed on mulberry bush leaves
These are the spinning wheels that produce the long silk threads ready for dyeing
These silk threads are left to dry - they look like long yellow hair extensions to me
Two girls from the natural dye shed hold the silk that has been 'washed clean' of all imperfections
At Mekong Blue they have over 30 looms to make their quality silk products. Here Srey Mao takes time off her lunchbreak to show us how they work.

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