As Canadians gather today at citadels, in school gyms and on parade route street corners to mark Remembrance Day, we’re reminded how lucky we are to be living in a country at peace.
Most of our school children and even adults – thankfully – have never known what it is to be at war, watching family members and neighbours perish in a maelstrom of hatred and fear.
But on the other side of the world, Cambodia is still, to this day, picking up the pieces following decades of unrest. Literally. The country’s countryside is littered with spent bomb and artillery shell casings.
But now Rajana Association of Cambodia is transforming old horrors into peace and beauty. Its artisans are creating innovative jewellery from the recycled metal shells and selling this Bombshell Jewellery to markets all around the world.
The many shells still being uncovered on land and along the Mekong River are remnants of the country’s Pol Pot genocide, in which over 1.7 million Cambodians were killed between 1975 and 1979. With approximately 21 percent of the population destroyed, the genocide is considered one of the worst human tragedies in the past century. It’s been estimated that it would take 800 years to eliminate all undetonated bombs in Cambodia and neighbouring Laos.
Yet creating jewellery not only allows the artisans to use skills passed down for hundreds of years, but the process offers catharsis for the many victims who lost family and friends in the genocidal conflict.
Rajana is owned and operated by the Khmer people, and provides skills, income and security in a stable work environment. The basic salary is well above the area’s minimum wage for Cambodians working in the garment sector. It’s an organization that offers hope in a time of peace.
If you are interested in what this meaningful, handcrafted jewellery looks like, and in supporting Rajana’s mission, check out the Khmer Peace Necklace, War and Peace Bracelet, or any of our other Rajana pieces.
This is the day Canadians remember, but for millions of Cambodians, they can’t forget.