VoW: Women harness creative talents
PHUKET VILLAGE OF THE WEEK: In a small community near Kamala, a group of local Muslim women are hard at work making scarves, lemongrass shrimp paste, traditional desserts and other items for residents in the area.
Saturday 9 July 2011, 07:35AM
One year ago, about twenty Muslim ladies in Baan Bangwan, led by Ladda Khawijit, formed a group made up of Muslim housewives determined to put their skills and talents to use.
The group successfully applied for funds from the Phuket Community Foundation’s Small Grant Programme, and from the funds were able to start making their handicrafts from local materials.
Thanks to the leadership and keen entrepreneurial skills of Ms Ladda, the products have been sold in many provincial fairs such as the One Tambon, One Product (OTOP) fair, the Andaman Halal fair, and many more.
“Our nam prik takrai (lemongrass shrimp paste) was the most popular, as were the Muslim scarves that we sell cheaper than the other markets. They are also better quality and look nicer,” Ms Ladda said.
The positive feedback from customers helped the local administrative body OrBorTor and other government agencies such as the Phuket Provincial Agriculture Office and the Phuket Provincial Labour Skill Development Office take notice off the group, she said.
These days, the best-selling item is products made from som khaek (garcinia fruit), a common fruit which is found everywhere in Baan Bangwan but can be given added value when turned into something else.
Som khaek is used to make a dessert or appetiser by cooking it with sugar until it dries up, Ms Ladda said.
Another option is to dry the fresh fruit then blend it to create a tea which can help people lose weight, she said.
The group has about 50 members now, all of whom contribute differently by sharing their skills. Some can make batik clothes, handbags, baskets, in additional to the scarves, food, and lemongrass shrimp paste.
The handiwork also provides financial rewards for the Muslim ladies, with many earning up to B7000 per month.
“We are happy that we can show people, especially men, that although we are women, our creative ideas can help us earn money to support our families too,” Ms Ladda said.
“We will continue developing ourselves. We know that some of our products such as painted batik clothes and plastic handbags can be found in other places, therefore we use attractive marketing such as selling them together in one packages to boost our sales,” she said.
Baan Bangwan is about two kilometres east of Kamala Beach.
How to get there: When driving from Patong, drive north on the road to Kamala Beach. Head past the turn-off to Kamala Beach, as if you are driving to Surin. Just before Phuket Fantasea, turn right down the road titled Kamala 10, where there is a 7/11 shop and traffic lights. Follow the road about 500 metres to the first Y-intersection, and Baan Bangwan is on the corner.