A few years back (in 2014), we started a campaign to promote community products from the northern region of Thailand under Sure Design T-Shirts website. We offered villagers relatively substantial benefits in hope to improve their livelihoods and prevent them from leaving hometown and families to become migrant workers in the city. We saw many communities grow stronger. They smiled more widely and laughed more often than the first day we met.
Two years ago (in 2015), the impact of our small initiative became more visible. Many households whose family members were migrant workers in Bangkok asked their folks to return home to help their parents in seasonal farming while spending free time making pants and crafting woven necklaces. With extra income, some families won battle against informal debt and set an example for neighboring communities. During the year, we decided to extend our line of products and the channels to help distribute these goods and crafts from our local communities. Joining the like minded team of friends and family, we founded Harem Pants. We then focused on dissemination of product development as well as production techniques to minimize waste and ensure quality control. … That year, many communities established community network and succeeded in boosting productivity and sales volume.
Receiving the bad news.
Early 2016, we received a bad news that one of our colleagues and group co-founders passed away. While mourning his death, we realized what he believed, did and set up did not go in vain. It was not only us who cried and grieved over this loss. There were villagers from other communities who came to pay condolences to our friend after hearing the sad news. We never imagined our small e-commerce website would have had such influence in the lives of others. The same day we bid our friend goodbye, we witnessed friendship from villagers, communities and friends who put off their daily work to help out at the funeral.
Despite feeling sad, we became inspired and motivated to carry out our late friend’s charity mission and would like to take our charity work to the next level.
This year, we wish to contribute more concretely. In the past several years, we have financially supported disadvantaged communities through different charity organizations and foundations. Many a time, we fear that what we have contributed does not reach the persons in need. Some organizations overspend on public relations and marketing activities. They produce excessive flyers, brochures, advertisement on billboards, etc. Others went silent after we sent support. There is no updated information whatsoever, except a thank you letter, which we do not want.
We want to make sure our donation reaches the most marginalized groups. We want to deliver aid to those most in need. We do not want part of our money turned into PR budget or staff’s commission. Therefore, this year, our resolution is to deliver the help ourselves. This way, we can reduce avoidable expenses such as advertisement and others unnecessary cost so that full assistance will be provided.
In doing so, we admit we are just a group of amateurs. Yet, we believe we can deliver. In a country like Thailand where social disparity is remarkably high, it is not that hard to find people who really need help. The challenge is, in fact, how to help them eradicate poverty and become self-sufficient, without having to solely rely on external assistance.
Hence, throughout this year, we set out a plan to seek and support: