Receiving recognition and appreciation by society and family not only give good mental health to the elderly but also physical wellness. Therefore, it is not surprising that whenever the elderly members of “Ban Suan Mai Basketry Group” gather the group to weave bamboo baskets, the happy sound of chat and laughter is always heard.
The elderly in basketry group are the parents of children in WVFT’s Child Sponsorship Programme, and these elderly parents have been supported by the Area Development Programme, Khuraburi district, Phang-Nga province to spend their free time making extra income through the use of bamboo which is abundant in the village.
“There are 17 people in our group, four are men and the eldest one is 70 years old,” Teerayuth, chief of “Ban Suan Mai Basketry Group”, proudly said before telling the initiative of the group, “World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT) took me and the other 6 members to study bamboo weaving from the basketry group that WVFT has supported earlier, but after coming back from the first study trip, we quickly forgot what we’ve learned,” Teerayuth laughed.
However, the Khuraburi Area Development Programme and the Ban Suan Mai Basketry Group are indefatigable to study from the skilful basket weavers two or three more times, “We still were not good in weaving and in the end, we had to invite the trainers to teach us at our workplace,” Teerayuth laughed again. “We must take time to learn to weave bamboo baskets and also teach each other. We do it by heart,” He emphasized the last sentence.
The group separates tasks to each member according to their physical strength. Men get into the wood or in rubber plantation to cut bamboo. It is not just cutting any stalks, the woodcutters must have a good skill to choose the stalks which are not too old and not too young and after that, cut the bamboo stalks into strips. Then both men and women can weave bamboo baskets.
There are two types of bamboo baskets woven in the group. One is the basket for dried salted fish, and another is for black crab. In rainy season, the group will produce only the bamboo baskets for black crab as Teerayuth explained, “In rainy season, there is no demand of dried salted fish baskets because there is no sunlight to dry the fish so that we will sell the baskets for black crab instead. This method helps us sell the bamboo baskets the whole year.”
On average, the group can produce 500-700 bamboo baskets each month. The merchants will come to the workplace and buy each basket at the price of 40 baht. From this 40 baht, 2 baht is deducted for the group fund, 5 baht is deducted for management cost and the rest of 33 baht is for the weaver. This income management will help the members have a steady stream of money to manage the group sustainably. “Work more, earn more,” Teerayuth said.
Kalasom, a member of Ban Suan Mai Basketry Group aged 65 years old who often weaves the most amount of baskets, “I earn about 3-4 thousand baht each month, so now I have a credit to buy rice from the shop and make a payment later. The shopkeeper trusts me because he knows that I have a certain income.”
After that she looked around to her friends in the group and said on behalf of everyone with her smile, “ Thank you very much, WVFT.”