Saturday, December 14, at 10:30 a.m. was the official
opening of Ruam Mit Caf้ and Bakery. Behind the Ruam Mit Caf้
stands the Ruam Mit Foundation, a vocational and life-skills program for
young recovering substance users and youth at risk.
the bread-ribbon (from left to right) are Nit Wangviwat, Hon. Consul for
Canada, Christine Munro, Canada Fund Coordinator, Dr. Jaroon Jittiwutikarn,
Ruam Mit’s director, and Hagen Dirksen, Hon. Consul for Germany.
As His Majesty the King said in his birthday speech on
December 5, Drug Abuse is widely spread in this country, and it troubles him
a lot. So society must do everything it can to help overcome this problem
and let socially challenged people not be a burden but a helping hand in our
That is exactly what the Ruam Mit Foundation is doing.
Their experience is that substance abusers and people belonging to families
with substance abusers are already at high risk without counseling and help.
Many get caught in the cycle of physiological and psychological addiction.
Some are thrown in prison. Some have the chance to get treatment, but going
back to the same circle of people makes it even harder to resist. Many young
users also find it difficult to find employment due to lack of skills and
being frustrated; being out of a job makes it just so easy to go back using
In August 2000 Ruam Mit started providing economic and
social rehabilitation services as a community development response for young
adolescents. Currently, this training is centered around baking and
marketing with the main program teaching the kids how to bake whole-wheat
bread, cookies, and many other kinds of goodies, with an emphasis on health
already anticipate the cozy atmosphere from the outside.
The bakery team consists of a trainer-baker and up to 8
trainees at a given time. The goods are sold by direct delivery service to
individuals and shops, guesthouses and department stores around Chiang Mai.
Customers can order online, by telephone or by fax. At the end of the 6
months training, the successful young bakers receive a certificate to show
their credibility to operate independently either within this bakery or gain
food is emphasized - three of the trainees bake cookies, various breads and
pizzas, and many items are for sale at local supermarkets.
Apart from running the business, Ruam Mit also provides
opportunities for non-formal education by regularly inviting resource
persons to hold workshops for the trainees about drug prevention, personal
development, recreation, health (especially AIDS awareness) and provides
basic computer skills training.
The trainees come from lowland and upland Thai
communities and are between 13 - 25 years of age. Currently, 5 young
recovering substance abusers and 3 youths at risk are going through this
program with as much enthusiasm as you can imagine. Finally they have been
given a chance they could only dream of in their former life. They have a
clean place to sleep, a place to work, they are encouraged to play music and
sports, they grow vegetables and herbs, they learn to socialize and all this
builds up their self-confidence, their acceptance and respect towards each
other. And it shows as you can see when you walk into the caf้.
Smiling faces greet you, along with the aromas of cookies, freshly baked
bread, pizza and coffee.
After the youths successfully go through the program and
receive their certificate, they return to their communities. Ruam Mit
supports its alumni by offering financial/technical assistance and regularly
follows up on their progress. To give you an example: One of the first
trainees of Ruam Mit has established a small but successful Thai sweets
business in Chiang Rai, built from a 9000 baht interest-free loan.
At the opening of the Ruam Mit Bakery, which is located
next to the TAT office on Chiangmai-Lampoon Road, right across the small
iron bridge, Hagen Dirksen, honorary consul of the Federal Republic of
Germany, Nit Wangviwat, honorary consul of Canada, and Christine Munro,
Canada Fund coordinator, presided over the ceremony.
Hagen said in his opening speech, “Life skills and
vocational programs have been targeted (to help) socially disadvantaged
youths and here in Chiang Mai already 20 young adults have successfully
attained their certificates and their goals over the 6 months of training.
Based on this success it has been decided to go a step further and open this
caf้. The German Embassy was approached and very pleased to receive
this request. After looking over this professional program it was decided to
sponsor 209,000 baht for 2 bakery ovens and we hope, no we are sure, that
this will help to make the program even more successful and contribute to
the society of Chiang Mai.”
Mrs. Christine, a very sympathetic lady who came all the
way from Bangkok for the opening, added in her speech that the government of
Canada has supported more than 1000 NGO small projects during the last 27
years and is very happy to add the Ruam Mit Foundation, not only because
this project has a long term lifespan but also because their work is just
If you are interested in learning more about Ruam Mit, or even to
volunteer some of your time, you are most welcome to drop by for coffee and
cookies or to contact Mrs. Zarina Mulla, the program advisor who is more
than happy to show you around. Tel. 0 5326 2427 or fax: 0 5326 2428 or
email: [email protected]