Starting in 2014, it has been 8 years since the "Central Tham” project, Do It Together & Do It With Heart, under Central Group's sustainable development commitment, has continued its mission by stepping in and supporting Na Muen Si community in Trang. It aims to enhance the community’s economy, create career opportunities, and give a helping hand during crises and natural disasters. Central Tham sees the importance of inheriting Na Muen Si’s traditional culture, which has a long heritage going back more than a century, and wants to develop a community-based tourism model in the area. The operations at Na Muen Si include building Na Muen Si Weaving Community Learning Center to preserve the traditional hand-woven handicrafts of the southern region; strengthening education; creating a bicycle route for community tours; training on how to be a tourist guide; and designing and developing products made of woven fabrics. The project helps generate a community income of more than 56 million baht across 155 households (as of July 2022) through cooperation between the government, the private sector, and the community.
Pichai Chirathivat, Executive Director of Central Group, said, “Central Tham realizes the importance of preserving ancient culture and wants to incorporate it into the community. Therefore, we have initiated the “Community Tourism Project - Na Muen Si Weaving Community Learning Center.” Under this project, we have helped to modernize the design of Na Muen Si woven fabrics to meet the demands of the current market and renovated the former weaving factory into a textile museum in 2014. The museum is expected to be a source of preservation for ancient cloth patterns and woven fabrics. We also aim at passing the local wisdom on to the next generations in the community. Na Muen Si is outstanding in its use of natural colors and in creating fabric patterns inspired by Trang’s unique traditions and cultures. This heritage has been passed down since the reign of King Rama V. In 2018, we renovated the Na Muen Si textile museum and transformed it into the Na Muen Si Weaving Community Learning Center, which could be one of the important cultural attractions. The learning center consists of a weaving mill, a textile museum, Na Muen Si community enterprise, and community tourism with local guides who will help visitors discover the legend of woven fabric of Na Muen Si sub-district, Na Yong district in Trang province. We hope to enhance community-based tourism here to a national level.
Community Tourism Project - Na Muen Si Weaving Community Learning Center consists of 4 areas as follows:
- Na Muen Si Weaving Community Learning Center Building: It was designed under the concept of "Stay with Fabrics''. The style and structure of the building are simple. It is open-air and fits into the context of the community. The building is mainly made of wood and stands out by using Na Muen Si woven fabrics to decorate the interior. It is a center for learning the legend of Na Muen Si woven fabrics.
- Na Muen Si Textile Museum: It was built under the concept of "Sueb-yod Sao-yan", which means "inheriting the heritage of woven fabrics". The purpose of the museum is to show the value of Na Muen SI woven fabrics. The traditional fabric patterns are glass beads, Ratchawat, and Kaew Ching Duang, created from local wisdom which has been passed down from weavers in the previous generation to the next generation. This museum is a place where the heritage fabric patterns are collected and a place to promote the cultural tourism of Trang. In addition, youths in the community are encouraged to participate by being tour guides to help visitors discover the stories of local ancient fabrics. There is also a display of the costumes of the villagers in the old days, using Muen Si fabrics as their garments.
- Na Muen Si Community Enterprise Shop: It is located in front of the Na Muen Si Textile Museum. The museum and the shop are connected to each other. The shop sells various products, such as woven fabrics, bags, shirts, hats, etc. Central Group has worked together with the Na Muen Si community to design and develop a new collection of products, such as shirts, pants, and shawls, which are sold under the Good Goods brand. Central Group also trained the community about stock management, store layout, product design, bookkeeping, costing, and online sales.
- Create a bicycle route for community tourism in Na Muen Si Sub-district, make signs informing visitors of the tourist attractions, and arrange bicycle rental services for visitors.
In addition to the development of the community tourism model, Central Group has also continuously supported and pushed for education in the area, including creating careers for people with disabilities in Trang. Operations are as follows:
- 19 schools in Trang participated in the Pracharat Partnership School Project (a public-private partnership scheme).
- Developing schools through the Moral School Project and Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy in Education in collaboration with the Foundation of Virtuous Youth under the Crown Property Bureau.
- Joining the Partnership School Project with the Ministry of Education. MOUs have been signed with schools and vocational colleges in the regions. In the south, Ban Khuan Sawan School and Trang Technical College were selected to ensure continuity of education from the basic education level to the vocational education. In addition, 168 scholarships were awarded to both schools.
- Encouraging schools to be assessed by national experts in sufficiency economy. The schools that pass the assessment will become learning centers under the philosophy of sufficiency economy in education.
- Promoting the use of technology and innovation in the development of fabric fibers for Na Muen Si woven fabric community enterprises, such as nano-woven fabrics, banana fibers, etc.
- Creating a career for people with disabilities in Trang by cooperating with the Sports Movement and Physical Disability Association Trang to establish a "Chicken Farming Project for Sale." A total of 28 households across 5 districts have got income from this project. Central Group provides support ranging from building chicken coops, raising chicken breeds, and providing financial training, such as household accounting. This enables people with disabilities to have a career and generate income to support themselves and their families in a sustainable way.
Central Group is ready to be a part of preserving and passing on local culture and wisdom to future generations, as well as supporting and promoting the development of local products to create sustainable careers for the community and to create a strong regional economy that leads to the sustainable growth of local products.