This project was established in the village of Huay Malai on the Thai Burma border in Kanchanaburi province in 2002, not far from the River Kwai. This is an area where there are many Karen refugees who have fled from the violence meted out to the Karen in Burma since the end of WW2. Some live in refugee camps but the majority live outside the camps. They do not have citizenship and so have no right to own land, get regular work or travel outside the immediate area. It is hard to find ways to earn money in order to feed their families.
Many years ago a Scottish missionary had taught some of the Karen women to do cross stitch. In 2002 Helen Miller visited the area with a group from Barclay Church. Whilst she was there one of the women showed her the cross stitch and asked for her help in marketing it in Scotland. A few months later the River Kwai handicraft project was born. This project not only gives these women a chance to earn money to care for their families, but it is a wonderful example of partnership. The Karen women sew the designs (advised by Helen) and a group of women in Edinburgh mount the cross stitch into the beautiful cards which are sold all over the UK.
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