Rongmuang with a Smile
Though the “Rongmuang Community” next to the central train station of Hualamphong has once been a dense shanty town packed with vice and rubbish, all these disconcerting elements are not a restriction for its people to recreate a new “Creative Space” thanks to the unity and harmony of the Rongmuang Community, in an attempt to make Rongmuang a smiling community. The Rongmuang community opened itself to welcome visiting guests under the “Rongmuang with a Smile” project on April 3rd, 2015.
On a simple but lovely theme, the community ground was opened to let people in the community show off their abilities, talents, and vocational success stories. Most importantly, the ground was also packed with food stalls from nearby popular restaurants selling their specialities in reasonable prices. The event was warmly welcomed by the general public, who praised the Rongmuang Community for its unity and harmony in making it the “Creative Space”.
Thanks to the Foundation for Child Development (FCD), Rongmuang Community Council, community volunteers, community youth group, under support of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth), Child and Youth Media Institute, and Dee Jung Space Club. The objectives for this project was to put on trial the health development activities for youth in city slum while promoting the preventive mechanism for underprivileged children through the presence of Creative Space, for the sake of the strength of the community.
And this is the beginning of the Creative Space under the “Three-Prong Goods”: good media, good space, and good immune, as a tool for the youngsters to have a positive, creative space to express themselves through a wide range of educational activities to learn the life skills and to develop their own sense of community.
After presiding over the opening ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Prof Dr Yongyuth Yuthavong said that the government had laid out a set of social policy with an aim to create “Stability, Prosperity, and Sustainability” by reducing the gaps, promoting mutual support, and creating a better society. The most important targeted group is the youngsters who are to be supported of better health, better education, and better potential improvement, so that they grow up to be inquisitive citizens responsible for the society. He also urged the public – parents, teachers, and the community – to support the cause for the youngsters to have good education, good life skills, and good social immune.
The Deputy Prime Minister praised the “Rongmuang with a Smile” that the project could improve the quality of the community. The public participation and community unity, if seen in every community in every province, will create stability, prosperity, and sustainability for the society. Being such an important matter, the government, therefore, gives precedence and is ready to upgrade the project of ‘Three-Prong Good City’ as a local-level policy, and eventually as a national-level policy.
Meanwhile, ThaiHealth Manager Dr Krisada Ruangareerat, said that the good health is partly rooted from a good society and a good community under the “Three-Prong Good City” scheme.
1) Good Media – is achieved when people in the community know how to create good public relations that sees communication within the community on the positive side;
2) Good Space – makes everyone in the community ready to join hands to make their community better. The community of Rongmuang was once a dangerous and accident-prone backstreet where children in the area did not have space for any activity. Later when the community began to create a ‘safe space’ for their youngsters to have their own activities, it also helped transforming the old community into somewhat much more liveable. The most important issue in the scheme is the
3) Good Immune – because each community has a history, wisdom, and abilities of its people, these things can bring about the pride of self, which, in turn, makes them feel they are the owner of the community and ready to make it a learning centre as stated in the “Three-Prong Good City” scheme.
The community of Wat Duang Khae and its environ have been adjusted in terms of physical surroundings to host an array of artistic work and public participation. It all began with just a handful of youngsters with an appropriate public relations that make them proud of their work to create a better community. Starting with just a few kids, it grew larger as a group of volunteers, and then joined their families, young volunteers from volunteer spirit bank, volunteers from the private sector and the public sectors, into a large group of 700-strong squad with a common goal of making youngsters their leaders in terms of creativity and community-based learning. They have got helping hands from the community’s wisdom and hidden potential in creating the Creative Space.
Last year, ThaiHealth followed up on the “Three-Prong Good City” scheme, by finalising 24 projects in 107 areas of 38 provinces of Thailand, such as in Phetchaburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Uttaradit, Chiang Mai, and so on. As many as 5,000 youngsters, in a total of 20,000 family members, have signed up for the campaign.
At the end of the campaign, ThaiHealth had successfully incubated a huge group of enthusiastic local youngsters who appealed to adults to play bigger roles in developing the areas to eradicate vices and to reduce risks for the youth in certain areas. In some areas where there are conflicts of ideas or beliefs, the power of youth helped alleviate the friction by opening Creative Space, developing decaying spaces into positive, family-friendly creative spaces for the youngsters. This kind of success have been seen in Saphan Pla community of Samut Prakan province, where the rubbish-infested area was transformed into the community’s creative space. In the long run, ThaiHealth will be collaborating with its partners in every sector to expand the coverage of Three-Prong Good Cities nationwide.
What did the communities say about this :
Starting from Kanchana Kaisiri, or Pa Tick, President of Wat Duang Khae Community Council, she said that “Rongmuang with a Smile” project first began when the Foundation for Child Development came into the area to convince the local youngsters and adults to brainstorm, seeking ways to develop the Wat Duang Khae Community and three nearby communities of Charasmuang, Trok Salak Hin, and Flat Rotfai, that are in need of public participation.
Through community-based activities such as community media, short film, young reporters, collection of smiling stories, that later grew into the bigger “Smiling Community”, the art was used as a tool to improve the community by painting on walls of the rubbish-infested local walk, creating both physical and mental changes to the community, so that it’s become the cultural and lifestyle learning centre for the community.
Pa Tick also reiterated that the community development is the work of everyone in seeking the common solution to the community. “People” play the biggest role in this task, as they are the epicentre of the development effort, in order to achieve the better way, for the better health.
As for this local youngster, Sirirat Nudee said that Rongmuang Community had once been a community with the harshest drug problem in the whole of Pathum Wan district. Things changed drastically when the development activities came into the community, local youngsters grew interests in the activities, especially the art, the media, and the reporter thing. Thanks to the senior youngsters from the university and the experts who came to educate, to bring us onto the world of experiences and friendship. “From the success of the activities, they are sure to have developed the community, disciplined our mindsets, and improved our emotions and moral. They have successfully reduced violence in the community,” said Sirirat.
3 Goods are Good Media, Good Space, and Good Immune :
3 Goods are the ways of working to improve the well-being of local youngsters and their communities.
Good Media – are the media that promote learning, which eventually lead to a good and healthy life. Some of the good media are Art & Culture Media, which are folk music, folk tales, shadow puppet, media about local wisdoms, the local dialect, local food and desserts, local toys, local legends, and local history; People Media, which are local savant and community leader; Learning Activity Media, which are camp and play activities; the good media also include modern online media, natural environment media, societal media, and activities on the levels of family, school, and community.
Good Space – is the space where individuals, families, and the whole community jointly designed and can harness from the energy of the space. It is the space where people of the community come together to forge good relationships, exchange knowledge, and re-energise one another. Its open nature that permits learning can be in any forms such as a learning centre, knowledge-exchanging stage, or a multi-purpose space like space under an elevated house or a community playground.
Good Immune – means the awareness of intelligence over the mainstream media, over ourselves, and over the society. Such an awareness includes an ability to think, analyse, and distinguish with decent judgement. Having a good immune can be the protective shield against surrounding dangers, and rapid changes once they occur.
Besides, it also means an awareness of wisdom of every part of the community in their endeavour to create a better society, a pride in their own self, and the community identity.