Song is a cheerful, good-natured hammock weaver who lives in the Ban Boonyuen Village with her husband, children and extended family.
She is a member of the Mlabri Tribe, a small, peaceful hill-tribe in rural Northern Thailand. The Mlabri were traditionally a hunter-gatherer society, but development and rampant deforestation in the late 20th century decimated their way of life. Denied citizenship by the government and without a sophisticated understanding of the modern world, the Mlabri were quickly forced into indentured servitude and toxic fieldwork by neighboring tribes. Malnourishment and malaria killed many tribe members- they are now listed on UNESCO’s endangered languages list, with less than 300 Mlabri left in the world.
Hammock weaving is the first economic opportunity that has provided Song and her fellow Mlabri with a foothold toward stability and a brighter future for their children.
Weaving is important to Song because it provides her with a home-based, flexible source of income. She is a dedicated mother and wants to ensure that her children’s schooling is a priority, especially because her children are part of the first generation to go to school-- and she herself was denied had the opportunity to receive a formal education.
With weaving work, she can earn enough to support her family without resorting to laboring in the slash & burn fields- and she can ensure that her children do not have to work in toxic agriculture either. She works on a simple loom in her home, where she can watch her children, nieces and nephews play after school.
For Song and her fellow Mlabri, the extended family is part of the core family unit, so she doesn’t just weave in order to support her own children, but as part of a movement to improve the financial stability and wellbeing of the entire community.
About Yellow Leaf Hammocks
Yellow Leaf Hammocks is a for-profit social enterprise that trains and supports artisan weavers as they create high-margin luxury hammocks. By laying the foundation for a sustainable micro-economy, the organization is helping alleviate poverty, social injustice and environmental degradation for rural hill tribes in northern Thailand. The enterprise is a wholesale hammock seller that distributes its products through retail boutiques and e-commerce websites.
Kiva lenders’ funds are used to help artisans buy the raw materials to make hammocks. Additionally, the funds are used to expand the distribution network to increase hammock sales globally.
Yellow Leaf Hammocks joined Kiva through our Experimental Partnership Program, and has therefore received a lighter level of due diligence. Accordingly, loans associated with this partner carry a higher level of risk than typical Kiva loans.