Couple sells handmade scarves to benefit Cambodian children
garfield county correspondent
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” It started two years ago on the beach in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
Eva Jankovsky and Ryan Newberry, a couple who live in Glenwood Springs, were on
vacation. They met kids who wandered the beach during the day, selling fruit, sarongs, bracelets and other trinkets.
“We were wondering why they didn’t go to school and they told us they went to school at night,” Jankovsky said.
She and Newberry went to the Regent School the kids attended and met with the principal. They learned the kids worked during the days to support poor families.
“We just kind of fell in love with them,” Jankovsky said. “We decided that we wanted to help make sure that they were all able to go to school.”
She said they observed families living in shacks made from random items, with no running water, electricity, or toilets and showers connected to homes.
“I didn’t want to put my own biases on what they were going through, because that’s how it works there, but it’s sad to see the kids not have a childhood,” Jankovsky said. “The families can barely afford to feed themselves, let alone pay for their kids to go to school.”
The couple felt compassion for the kids, who seemed like they’d rather be playing than working all day to support their families. After being affected by that trip, Jankovsky said they began donating some of their own money to help 10 of the kids pay for school.
They decided they could do more and filed for nonprofit status about a year ago, Jankovsky said, but things really took off after a recent trip back to Cambodia in May. Jankovsky and Newberry had seen colorful scarves made of Cambodian silk, which they realized they could buy in bulk and sell in Colorado.
“That’s when we realized we can really help these kids,” she said. “We went back to Cambodia and got 1,000 of these silk scarves, so we brought them back and started selling them to people, and it’s been really successful.”
They’ve sold around 600 of them so far, and a group of students at the University of Colorado in Boulder is helping to market them. The scarves are accented by intricate designs that seem to hover below or somehow stand apart from the rest of the pattern.
“They’re 100 percent Cambodian silk,” Jankovsky said. “They’re really soft, really colorful.”
She said all the proceeds go to the Regent School via bank transfers to the school’s account. Jankovsky and Newberry have a relationship with the school principal, who sends pictures and reports on the kids’ progress, she added.
Jankovsky said there’s no free education available in Sihanoukville, so she hopes the scarf sales will send more kids to school. The couple also hopes to obtain funds to construct a new playground and set up an Internet connection in the school.
Anyone interested in the scarves or the efforts can visit http://www.myspace.com/sihanoukvillekids or call (303) 594-2238 or (720) 352-2095.
“It’s really exciting to see where it goes,” Jankovsky said. “Hopefully people want to help us.”
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