A look inside a Cambodian garment factory. There's a pretty sweet health program in there.
True
Gates Foundation

When you hear about garment factories in the news, it's usually because something went wrong.

After all, they don't exactly have the best reputation. So when I recently went on a Learning Tour to Cambodia with the nonprofit organization CARE, I was very intrigued when I saw that our itinerary included a trip to the Levi Strauss factory in Phnom Penh. What was that going to be like?

As eye-opening as I'd imagined.


There was so much to see (and probably a lot I didn't see). There were parts that felt straight out of a news segment, but there was one part that probably would never make headlines.

The factory is doing something really cool that I think deserves some praise: an employee-led health education program.

This is a positive story.

We toured this factory. It was loud in there. So many machines!

In Cambodia, women make up 90% of garment industry workers.

With half a million workers in the field, you don't have to be a math whiz to understand that's a lot of women. They work super long hours (and for not enough money) to contribute to the biggest industry in Cambodia: garment-making. You probably own a pair of pants that were made there. Just sayin'.

But women and girls in Cambodia face a lot more roadblocks in life than in other parts of the world.

Despite progress in the past few years, high rates of poverty, maternal mortality, human trafficking, violence, and poor health and education access still hinder Cambodia's development. And when you take into account that 40% of Cambodia's children under 5 years old suffer from chronic malnutrition, it's easy to see that kids aren't getting off to a good start in life either. It's a cycle that's hard to break.

Pich Navy is a garment worker whose daughter has been sick way too much.

We're talking multiple times a month, with stomach bugs, diarrhea, you know ... the miserable, messy stuff. And if caring for a sick kid isn't already hard enough, it can be crushing for a parent's job stability and paycheck.

Open wide, it's breakfast.

But when Pich started listening to her coworkers talk about hygiene and sanitation over their lunch break, it sorta changed everything.

This is from one of the education sessions I was able to witness.

CARE has been working with garment factories (like the Levi Strauss one!) to find ways to empower women who have lacked the resources and education they need to make decisions about their own health and well-being.

What's especially cool is how they set it up. The CARE Cambodian team helps to train some garment workers on topics of health and hygiene — things like birth control (did you know a lot of the women are using IUDs? Pretty neat), condoms, food groups, how to keep things sanitary, how to take care of yourself, HIV/AIDS, and even how to be a better communicator in life.

Then, the trained employees turn around and help teach their coworkers.

Peer educators are giving their coworkers the tools to live healthier, better lives.

Peer educators go over their lesson for the day at the Levi Strauss factory. I'm pretty sure this was on birth spacing, but I also can't read Khmer.

The sessions usually take place around lunchtime, and they've been a win-win for all involved. Healthier employees means more productive employees — at work and at home — and that's becoming apparent to the workers and the factory.

The peer model is super smart and sustainable, too.

There's a lot more trust in peer-to-peer teaching than when a superior storms in and tells you what to do.

Pich's daughter doesn't get sick all the time anymore, and it's because her coworkers taught her how to properly wash her food and practice better hygiene.

Since she has been going to the health education sessions at work, Pich has been able to take her new knowledge of nutrition and use it at home with her family. So awesome.

Programs like this are a perfect example of how we can work together toward a healthier and smarter world.

For people who already know why you wash a vegetable before eating or how to properly wash your body to stay clean, this kind of teaching might not seem like a big deal. But in places where access to education is still limited and a lot of these life skills are never taught -— it's huge.

And I understand that garment factories are far from ideal places to work, but this is a step in the right direction. Hopefully more factories will recognize the benefits of focusing on employee health.

It's all about taking one step at a time.

See how the U.S. and Australian governments are contributing:

True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less

Sir David Attenborough has one of the most recognized and beloved voices in the world. The British broadcaster and nature historian has spent most of his 94 years on Earth educating humanity about the wonders of the natural world, inspiring multiple generations to care about the planet we all call home.

And now, Attenborough has made a new name for himself. Not only has he joined the cool kids on Instagram, he's broken the record for reaching a million followers in the shortest period. It only took four hours and 44 minutes, which is less time than it took Jennifer Aniston, who held the title before him at 5 hours and 16 minutes.

A day later, Attenborough is sitting at a whopping 3.4 million followers. And he only has two Instagram posts so far, both of them videos. But just watch his first one and you'll see why he's attracted so many fans.

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


via Tom Ward / Instagram

Artist Tom Ward has used his incredible illustration techniques to give us some new perspective on modern life through popular Disney characters. "Disney characters are so iconic that I thought transporting them to our modern world could help us see it through new eyes," he told The Metro.

Tom says he wanted to bring to life "the times we live in and communicate topical issues in a relatable way."

In Ward's "Alt Disney" series, Prince Charming and Pinocchio have fallen victim to smart phone addiction. Ariel is living in a polluted ocean, and Simba and Baloo have been abused by humans.

Keep Reading Show less

One night in 2018, Sheila and Steve Albers took their two youngest sons out to dinner. Their 17-year-old son, John, was in a crabby mood—not an uncommon occurrence for the teen who struggled with mental health issues—so he stayed home.

A half hour later, Sheila's started getting text messages that John wasn't safe. He had posted messages with suicidal ideations on social media and his friends had called the police to check on him. The Albers immediately raced home.

When they got there, they were met with a surreal scene. Their minivan was in the neighbor's yard across the street. John had been shot in the driver's seat six times by a police officer who had arrived to check on him. The officer had fired two shots as the teen slowly backed the van out of the garage, then 11 more after the van spun around backward. But all the officers told the Albers was that John had "passed" and had been shot. They wouldn't find out until the next day who had shot and killed him.

Keep Reading Show less