In Anlong Pi, a village on the outskirts of famous tourist destination Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia, a group of women gather each day to peel bark from 3-meter-long sections of banana tree trunks. The bark pulp taken during the process, akin to peeling onions, is steamed to recover fibers and then is chopped up and dried in the sun.
This is Kumae, a workshop where Japan-born Takuya Yamase, 25, offers impoverished Cambodians a chance to make a living by converting banana trees into paper and handmade crafts. To locals, Kumae serves as the sole alternative to eking out a living scavenging in a garbage dump.
In 2012, Yamase volunteered with a group of about 10 young Japanese in a Cambodian village to run a project aimed at distributing recycled clothes and stationery.