Bracelets4Buildings (B4B) is a charitable organization* supporting the less fortunate in Cambodia and Thailand. We strive to:
Raise funds with bracelets made by artisans in Siem Reap
Build homes for those most in need
Give opportunities to be self-sufficient
Meet our Bracelet Makers
© Mark Kelly Photography
Toem and Sett
Sett and her mother, Hom Sok Hai, were the very first recipients of B4B house renovations in Cambodia (March 2015). She was recommended as a candidate for a new home by Nan, the village chief. Sett has been blind since the age of five, and she has been dependent on her mother, who is now in her eighties and starting to suffer from dementia.
Sett’s house was full of holes, and B4B replaced the roof, siding, and floors. Only the house frame was kept, although it had to be re-enforced significantly. B4B also provided the ladies with food, clothing, sleeping mats, and mosquito nets. It was clear that these were the first new clothes that they had owned in many years.
Each year, B4B returns to visit with Sett and her mother to keep track of their progress. In 2016, we learned that a long-lost brother had returned and sold the title to their land for $200. When he subsequently died, we were concerned that the ladies housing situation would be jeopardy. Fortunately, the land was purchased by a distant relative, who lives close by, and they have agreed to let Sett and her mother live there for the rest of their lives.
Although blind, in 2017 Sett learned how to make rainbow bracelets! She was taught by friends from the Karakia Collective, Genevieve’s Fair Trade Village, and by her neighbor and friend, Toem. For the first time in her life, Sett now earns enough income to provide food, medicine, and life’s essentials for her family — and it shows on her face! When we met Sett, her disability had rendered her dependent, isolated and shy, but now she vibrates with self-confident and motivation.
Sett lights up a room — she is the most amazing person. While barely 4.5 feet tall, she exudes a warmth and grace that transcends any language barrier. To be in her presence is to know joy. All Sett needed was a hand-up and a little help from her new friends. We invite you to consider purchasing some rainbow bracelets to help support Sett and her mother.
We met Toem back in March 2015 while renovating B4B’s first house in rural Cambodia, for Sett. Toem and her family lived in a small thatched house that was on the path from the road to Sett’s house.
Each day when we walked by, we’d stop to say hello to Toem and her three children. They were clearly in distress, as their house was full of holes, and the children were dressed in little more than rags. Toem had that look of desperation on her face, and the children were aloof and hungry. We heard that Toem was recently widowed, and that she tried to make ends meet by making thatched panels to sell in the market for home construction. While they sold in the market for up to a dollar or more, she was making less than 2.5 cents per panel.
Since it was at the end of our trip to Cambodia, we did not have the time or the means to build a new house for her at that time. Instead, we paid one of our local contractors to fix her roof (to get her through rainy season), and we provided Toem and her family with food and new clothes. We told Toem that we’d do our best to come back the following building season to provide a better solution.
In November 2015, we returned to Toem’s village to begin construction of her new home. Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors in Canada, we were able to build two homes, one for Toem and one for her sister, Teo, on land that they owned jointly.
With the move to her new home, Toem’s life has turned around dramatically. For the first time in her life, she has a place where she can lock the door, and her family can be safe. She started to make bracelets for B4B, and she now earns enough money to feed her family. She even has enough money to send her older daughter to English school on a new bike.
Toem has also blossomed within her community. She seems to be more accepted, and she has started to pay it forward. She has taught her neighbor, Sett (who is blind), how to make bracelets. They have now become good friends, almost like sisters. In January 2018, Toem married again and appears to be thriving. It’s amazing how foundational and transformative a new home can be.
The Original "Bracelet Man"
Thary was born in 1983, one of eight children and the only sibling born with a physical disability. He was born without any legs and has congenital hand anomalies. This presents a difficult challenge in a developing country without any kind of governmental or social assistance infrastructure. Cambodia is a country where the average income per family is still just over 2 dollars a day. In his early twenties, Thary lost his parents when they died prematurely due to complications from HIV / AIDS. After high school, Thary moved in with one of his sisters and become the caregiver to her children. At the age of twenty-six, he made the decision to become an entrepreneur and start his bracelet business.
Today Thary is supporting himself and his family members while living on his own. He is an individual who inspires us to do more and to be more. Thary is a living example of what can happen when you commit to living a life of possibilities.
We have partnered with Thary and the other bracelet makers to use their bracelets as a source of inspiration & awareness for all who have heard hear their stories and want to help. After sharing their story with individuals we offer one of the B4B bracelets in return for a contribution to our project. All of the funds received are directed toward projects for the building of new homes and greenhouses for the poorest of the poor in Cambodia and Thailand. The bracelets remind us daily of how lucky we are to be born in the Western World and how there are so many people in Cambodia & Thailand that could really use our help.
*Bracelets For Buildings Inc is a non-profit corporation in the State of Indiana and shall operate exclusively for educational and charitable purposes within the meaning of Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future Federal tax code. EIN: 82-1842475
Bracelets4Buildings Canada operates as a trade name of Carpenters 4 Cambodia, a federally registered Canadian charity.