Read Time: 5 min.
Her Name is Ya
I met Ya a couple of years ago outside an airport in Cambodia. Although we had been working with her for years, selling ornaments and scarves she and her friends had been making, this was the first time I was able to hug this young woman and really hear her story.
This bubbly, passionate, kind-hearted woman has a story of acute suffering, betrayal, and strength. She’s lived through extreme physical pain only to find that she was an outcaste to society. But, where many people might have hidden in darkness, Ya made a decision to shine. She not only has rebuilt a life where she is surrounded in love and family, but she has encouraged other women to dig for strength and redemption. She encourages other women who also had acid thrown on them to find beauty and light in the world once again.
As Ya has rebuilt her life, she’s found and given hope. She is also now a wife and a mother. Ya is a hero. She has inspired me, and I hope she inspires you too.
Her Story is Precious – We Must Handle With Care
“I think the best way to explain what happened to these women is to think about a grief we have. Usually, we want to share our tragedy, our loss only with those with whom we choose. If we have been raped or lost a loved one, or our heart has been broken, we usually are very careful about who we share this with. But for these women, their greatest tragedy, their life-altering loss, is written on their faces.
We would be deeply affected were we to walk about wearing t-shirts that said, ‘grieving mother’, ‘rape victim’, ‘abandoned wife’, ‘unwanted child’, ‘unemployed father’.
The scars on these women’s faces are like those t-shirts, but they can’t be taken off.
Everywhere they go, they are seen only through the lens of this life-shattering event.
It becomes their identity, so they can’t just be another shopper in the market, or student in a class, or rider on a bus, or pedestrian on the street, or customer in the bank, or patient in the doctor’s office.
Always this part of their identity is emblazoned on their faces.
Her Story is a Story of Hope
I’ve consistently been the subject of mockery, hatred, rejection, and curiosity, but rarely the subject of compassion or help.
I’m gradually trying to rebuild my life and to make a future for myself.
But the only thing that gives me the courage to do that is that I know that I’m not alone and that I may be able to do something to help others.
I taught myself to make jewelry.
I started this small business to make goods by hand so other women in my condition, many of whom are left to raise their children on their own, can have the chance to earn their own living in safety and some measure of self-respect.
I recently started a family with my husband Seth.
We just had a baby boy and his name is Pratana.
Without support from Trades of Hope, I wouldn’t be able to have a family.
Life would be difficult, and I would suffer from hunger.
This isn’t just a job.
I feel like part of a community that sees me and the Artisans, and cares about us.
It’s a matter of the heart, not just a business.
And it brings me great encouragement.
It’s started to wash away all the words that people used to speak over me and my life.”
– Ya, Artisan in Cambodia
Jariya, affectionately known as “Ya”, recently named her newest design, our Tana Bracelet, after her newborn son, Pratana.
As Ya has rebuilt her life, she’s found and given hope.
She is also now a wife and a mother.
Ya is a hero. She has inspired me, and I hope she inspires you too.
Every woman behind Trades of Hope products has a name, face, and story.
You can help acid attack survivors in Cambodia change their stories.