Watthan Artisans Cambodia [WAC] is a worker-run cooperative of Cambodian artisans with disabilities, who are trained in handicraft production, including fine wood carving.
In June 2004,we, the former students of Maryknoll-Wat Than Skills Training Centrefor Landmine and Polio Disabled in Phnom Penh formed an independent cooperative. We are continually committed to providing hope and empowerment to people with disabilities, and through them to participate in Cambodia’s development.
Our goalis to improve the living standards of people with disabilities in Cambodia through training and employment.
Through training,we hope to reach out to more people living with disabilities; we are a marginalized sector of society, but perfectly capable of earning a living with dignity, given the encouragement and respect that Watthan can provide. During training, trainees are given a stipend and provided with training tools. When training is completed, wherever possible, trainees are absorbed into the WAC workforce.
At WAC,we aim to increase the employment opportunities for and the independence of the disabled; we also guarantee fair wages and benefits for our disabled artisans. In our cooperative, the profits are shared by the staff and producers, and are re-invested in staff development and training. Furthermore, we aim to increase awareness of the disabled and of the issues they face.
Our workshopand primary retail outlet are situated inside Wat Than pagoda, towards the south of Phnom Penh. Here, around 20 full time employees produce top-quality fashion and home accessories from locally-woven silk, cotton, up-cycled materials and re-claimed hardwoods; having many producers working together allows us to keep better control over quality and production capacity. In addition, WAC supports various groups of home-based producers, including woodcarvers and village weavers.
Retail: Watthan now runs four retail outlets around Phnom Penh, and sells through further outlets in Siem Reap.
Export:in addition to these, WAC also exports to customers in Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, Japan, Korea and the United States.
Our focusat WAC is on our abilities, and not our disabilities.