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Ms. Lamiad wades through a dimly lit alley in Klong Toey’s Phattanamai neighborhood. The ramshackle concrete walls of homes adorn her on both sides of the meter-wide path. Although the weather is hot and humid, and Lamiad is already feeling tired from a morning of delivering health and wellness visitations to the elderly citizens of her neighborhood, she is pressing on as she knows she is providing a vital service for her community. Lamiad herself is 60 years old and has dealt with her own health scares, such as Meniere’s disease, and yet rather than turning inward, she strives to not only overcome her own challenges, but also to support fellow community members in making their twilight years their most healthy and rewarding years yet.
Denisa steps to the elevated stage confidently, microphone in hand. Sandwiched between two conspicuous bouquets, rich with a cornucopia of florid flowers, Denisa describes the purpose of her invention, a meter-long, sky blue pipe with an odd, claw-like contraption at one end. Before a panel of judges, teachers, and scores of fellow students, Denisa articulates how this ordinary object has transformed the rubbish-filled canal surrounding her school into a point of pride among classmates, staff, and community members.
Mrs. Thanika Boonwattanaporn is the owner of the ROBECA brand, which has been producing Thai herbal cosmetics for five years, in Nakon Pathom, Thailand. One of her products is a lightweight moisturizer with a soft texture. Thanika is one of many Thai producers aiming to take her brand global.
People enter the world of Siamese Fighting Fish for diverse reasons. For Thongphol Malisorn and his wife Pissamai Limcharoen, who live in Nakhon Prathom, Thailand, they dreamed about turning a passion into a business. Together, they have extensive knowledge about the fish, though they lacked the business and marketing knowhow to make their passion profitable.
“Mr. Songkran Viracharoenkit”, an educational supervisor at the Primary Educational Service Area Office in Nakhon Nayok, recalls the time when the amount of resources and level of knowledge at schools in his province was very different. Back then, technology was not available to schools and teacher training was outdated, which limited the opportunity for education reform.
As a 19-year-old university student, Ms. Nguyen Thi Huong Lien recognized a need to empower young women in Vietnam. While most young people feel trepidation about tackling such a challenge, Lien chose to address it head-on.
The AEC, meaning ASEAN Economic Community, was established in December 2015 between 10 member states: Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Philippines, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand. Its ultimate goal is to allow for the free movement of goods, skilled labor, services, and investment. The AEC creates a single market and production base within ASEAN, and it aims to facilitate freer flow of capital. This economic union spans some 630 million people and has a combined GDP of $2.6 trillion. The progress and growth of the AEC leaves it ranked as the 7th largest economy in the world and the 3rd largest in Asia.
Nattawan Thongkled, or Mam, is part of a new generation who love farming. Mam oversees a 100 rai sugarcane plantation in Phetchabun Province. For many years, she has experienced first hand the high cost of farming, which is very labor intensive, and being put under increasing pressure by rising wages. As such, she was struggling to keep her farm’s finances afloat.
As the secretary of Khlong Lad Pachee’s business cooperative, Mr. Thammasak Maknakorn manages the business operations for the community’s chili sauce and processed mushroom producers. The community has a long tradition of cultivating local ingredients to make these healthy and tasty products for markets in Bangkok. Given the rising healthy lifestyle trend in Thailand, Mr. Thammasak has been trying to connect the cooperative’s products to this lucrative niche market; however, he has found that the cooperative lacks the financial sophistication and marketing know-how to compete with local boutique and international brands.