The first intention of the lecturer was to tour from Nongkhai to Mae Song Sub-District passing the national conserved forest of Mae Moei, Tasongyang, Tak. He was confronted with the problems of living of tribal people. They do not have enough of the four necessities of life. Their average income was lower than 10,000 Baht per year. Their children had few chances to learn in secondary school. The tribal folks said to him, “Ajarn should help improve our situation. Please do not leave us. We are waiting for you.” These touching words went deep into Asst. Prof. Manit Phewkhaw’s heart. From then on, the lecturer and cyclist has held the ideal of voluntary work and follow the steps of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The distance of over 780 km is not an obstacle for him.
Lecturers, staff, students and alumni of Nongkhai Campus, Khon Kaen University and people in general organized the activities to commemorate King Rama 5 and to follow His Majesty’s steps 5 times from January to June, 2017. The aim was to assist and develop the Mae Song Tribal people in 3 villages: Ban Wadogro, Ban Phya Maithong, Ban Sarekhekhee, Sob Khong Sub-District, Omkoy Dstrict, Chiangmai. From the activities, computer, learning media, sports equipment, clothes, donation money could be provided for the tribal people. Now, 16 demonstration farming plantations have been made with a sprinkler system. Seed varieties of vegetables were given to the tribe and flowers have been planted as homage to King Rama 9 at the Chekla Highland Community Learning Center leading towards sustainable self-reliance development.
Asst. Prof. Manit Phewkhaw said that the voluntary work for the tribal people follows King Rama 9’s wishes for: understanding, access, and development. His Majesty emphasized that deficit is profit. Sacrifice is like deficit, but benefits are with others and the society- that is profit. We should teach them how to find fish, not to give fish to them only. The activities implemented therefore were not only item donation, but educating the tribal people with knowledge so that they will build enough incomes for their living with their children going to school and their quality of life improved.
“We have taught them the philosophy of sufficiency economy through making integrated farm plantations and growing various vegetables. In the plantations, animals and plants support each other and the cost of production is reduced. The risks are reduced and the future incomes are increased. For instance Napier grass is grown for cows, cow manure is used as fertilizers for vegetables and fish. Organic farming is safe and conserves the environment. There will never be forest fire or shifting cultivation. Water from mountain cleavages is piped down to feed the sprinkler system and to water the plants. Farming is developed at the same time as education, public health, society, religions, cultures and the environment, with emphasis on self-reliance and mutual assistance. Villagers cluster into groups and the activities progress on to other areas. It is hoped that the tribal people will change and sufficiency economy will be successfully reached,” the lecturer said.
Mr. Sutthipan Kiat kongphrai, head of Ban Phya Maithong, Tasongyang, Tak said that he was impressed from the lecturers, staff and students from Nongkhai Campus, Khon Kaen University came to develop the areas in their village which is in a remote place. Not only items and educational kits were donated, but knowledge related to sufficiency economy of His Majesty King Rama 9 was also given. Now we have subsistent land to do continuously. I am really grateful and intend to learn according to the philosophy of sufficiency economy.
The 6th activity will be held in November when money and items will be mobilized to assist the tribal people. Nongkhai Campus people will join in rice harvesting on the mountain. The 7th activity will feature running and cycling from Nongkhai to Sekhapoo on November 29 to December 5, 2017. The following activities will be held according to readiness and there is intention to extend the activities to other remote areas.
If interested, please donate money or items at 08-0198-5807 (Asst. Prof. Manit Phewkhaw)