Written by Amnuai Beckenham
How Your Investment Helps Our Village Community
Our Thai village has an average household income of less than $90 per month. There is a severe problem with rural debt and lifestyles are at times primitive.
However, our village folks are proud, work hard and determined to provide a better future for their children.
At Thai Silk Magic we are passionate about helping in any way we can to improve village lifestyles and create better educational opportunities for the children.
When you purchase your Thai silk from us ALL THE PROFITS are shared with our village. Here are some actual examples of the things we do to help our village:
Contribute to the rebuilding of our village school – the story here is that the Government knocked down the old school as it was unsafe and leaked badly when it rained. Then the Government changed their mind and told us that their was no funds left to rebuild.
Students were sent out to other villages and some were taught under the shade of trees in the school yard – not the best educational facilities, especially when the monsoon rains arrived.
So we allocated a major proportion of our early sales revenues to this school rebuilding program that we are proud to say was completed in double-quick time.
Improve fresh rainwater collection systems
Provide uniforms and much needed school supplies to children of the most needy families. We faced a situation in 2009/2010 when we saw tears streaming down the faces of parents as they had to take their children out of school simply because they could not afford the minimal costs involved.
Created our village school’s first library
Repaired leaking roofs and power supplies of the homes of our poorest families – many of whom never complained about being completely soaked when it rained and their electrical connections were frail and rarely worked to drive cooling fans and the basic lighting.
Install new cooking, cleaning and washing facilities – we have seen some big changes from the traditional cooking fire to the use of gas and electricity and some of the homes now have washing machines.
Enable families to build safer and more robust homes that will protect them in the monsoon season. We have a long way to go here and just recently when we visited a neighbour my foot went straight through the upstairs floor boards.
Only the most basic building techniques have been used and some of the homes look like animal barns with no windows or glass anywhere.
Set up an educational support fund to assist the further education opportunities of the more needy families. A recent great example was the funding of one of our students to study law at a university about 100 kms away – this was a very proud moment for all of us.
Provide food and basic household supplies to elderly folks that have no land or immediate family support. People without land (often the result of past rural debt problems resulting in the land being reclaimed) have no rice crop which is the basic food staple.
This is a major challenge for us as there is a need to change the way people go about their farm working life. Currently people with land have adequate supplis of rice but there is really no profit to be made from this farming as most of their crop sales go to repay existing loans.
Help with the construction of safer play areas for children and sponsored children’s shows. These shows are great fun and there is more time spent on make-up than the actual performance. But everyone in the village attends and we have shared some very funny experiences. By covering the costs Thai Silk Magic helps in a small way for kids to “live out their stage dreams”.
Encouraged, supported and initially stocked a general store in our village – we even have ice cream!
Assisted in the purchase of improved rice farm equipment, especially with the purchase of small multi-purpose tractors. The days of the buffalo doing all the grunt work in ploughing are over but these animals are still kept as revered members of the family.
Educated and helped people to set up their first bank accounts with a focus on saving rather than spending. Amnuai has helped every single weaver to do this as we wanted to make sure their income from their silk weaving was not just spent on things like new motor bikes or better TV sets etc.
Our weavers enjoy our fair-pay principles plus we also pay a bonus. The results so far are that these families are now earning more than double what they did prior to Thai Silk Magic and this will increase as we get more customers to invest in our Thai silk.
Every day we continue to build confidence in the concept that “Thai Silk Magic will help you to help yourself and your family”
A Recent Vistor’s Perspective:
A recent visitor to Thai Silk Magic, Elisabeth Prantl, a highly regarded Austrian textile consultant, says it all:
“I discovered Thai Silk Magic and their little village of Ban Dong Yang on my recent country-wide tour of Thailand’s textile suppliers. Not only is their handmade silk of the highest quality but I saw for myself just what a positive impact this community project is having on their village.
People were so proud to show me their new kitchen area or their children’s new home study area and I was even invited to drive a new tractor – all the result of this community project.
Thai Silk Magic is proud of its early success but there are many challenges ahead in their mission to improve lifestyles. I have not seen this completely unselfish sharing of benefits anywhere else before and I am determined to return to this village to help them in any way I can to achieve their wonderful objectives”