At the multi-purpose building of Wat Wang Ja Ai (Bunyarat Wittayakom) School, Makham district, Chanthaburi province, Namping and Kaem, two 4th-grader buddies are busy setting up equipment and supplies for soap making on the table with some of their handy classmates while joyfully conversing with one another during the school’s “Moderate Class, More Knowledge” period.
“Today we’re going to make stingless bee honey soap bars. The ingredients include 1 kilogramme of glycerin, 40 grammes of stingless bee honey, 40 grammes of tamarind juice, 2 teaspoons of fragrance. First, we’ll slice the glycerin into little pieces, put them in a boiler, and place it over low heat until the entire glycerin is completely melted. Then, we’ll add the other ingredients in the boiler and slowly stir to mix them well. We’ll need a gentle touch at this step. If we stir it too forcefully, bubbles will form, which will make the soap bars look unattractive. Once all of the ingredients are mixed well, we’ll pour the mixture into the molds that we’ve prepared earlier. Let the soap bars set for about 30 minutes. Then, remove them from the molds. And all is done!” Namping was eloquently describing while demonstrating how to make soap with confidence.
“Soap making is an activity of the health and occupational skills promotion scheme. The activity builds upon the school’s stingless bee keeping project,” Teacher Angchan Jaemkuna, shared about the origin of the activities, which the school has been carrying out, thanks to the support in terms of materials and equipment and budget from World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT)’s Child Sponsorship Programme, through the implementation of Makham Project, Chantaburi province. A resource person from Chantaburi Province Agricultural Occupation Promotion and Development Centre (Bee Keeping Centre) has passed on knowledge about stingless bee keeping and honey product processing.
“Stingless bees, or meliponies, are insect pollinators. They differ from the other kinds of bees as they don’t have stingers. Locally we call them ‘I-lom’ insects. The villagers use them in pollination in their durian, rambutan, mangosteen, and longan orchards. Stingless bee keeping is not complicated at all. We just keep their hives in wooden boxes with the size of A4-paper in an elevated area to protect them from being attacked by ants,” Kaem talked about what she’s learnt.
“It takes about 1 year to keep stingless bees until their honey is ready to be harvested. The best time of the year is in April or May when the honey quality reaches its prime. Because of just a moderate amount of honey can be collected in each harvest season, plus a finding from a research revealing its therapeutic properties, the price of the stingless bee honey is high. In addition, stingless bee propolis has anti-fungal and bacterial effects and can be processed into various forms of products.” The resource person further added.
Besides soap bars, the school has also produced different processed products, such as shower cream, shampoo, lip balm, and pain relieving ointment. At the beginning the school has given away some free trials to the parents. There is a product sales plan in place to generate supplementary income for the students. Part of the revenue will be spent with investment in more supplies to enable activity continuation.
Today Wat Wang Ja Ai School have 155 students. WVFT’s Child Sponsorship Programme does not only support Namping and Kaem to continuously have educational necessities, but also enhance the girls’ learning and essential life skills and occupational skills along with their peers at school through the opportunity offered by their sponsors. “We would like to thank our sponsors so much,” Namping and Kaem were proudly showing off their products with a grin.