Mahidol University International College’s (MUIC) alumni are stepping up during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic by helping out people in need. Two of them are featured in this article:
Mr. Thosaphol Suppametheekulwat (major in Business Administration, Class of 2003),Marketing Director of New Arriva Co., Ltd., said their family-owned business was hard hit by the pandemic.
“We rely mainly on the export market especially in Europe. Our goal is to keep all our employees and not lay them off or deduct their salaries. We, thus, have to work in totally different ways.
“First, we came up with new items that fit with the Covid-19 situation, one of which is the Qualy Push Stick which you can use to touch elevator buttons and others instead of your finger,” he explained.
Then, they also organized a team dedicated to online business.
To keep their company operating and also help people, Thosaphol began offering new items to potential sellers but at reseller prices. “A lot of people who have lost their jobs and are free at home can buy and resell with a nice profit and at least make a living,” he said.
Another thing his company did to help people during the pandemic was to donate more than 5,000 Qualy Push Sticks to at least 31 hospitals to benefit medical personnel and other frontliners.
Their push stick itself is a result of Qualy’s collaboration with the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), a UK-based non-profit organization which advocates fishing net-free seas. The organization collects old fishing nets that fishermen have thrown away and which might cause damage to reefs. Qualy then upcycled these materials to create the push sticks.
Asked how MUIC has helped instill in him a helping attitude,Thosaphol affirmed that it is indeed part of the MUIC culture. “As students, we stayed together in one small school building back then. We were a small, tightly knit community. Whenever something went wrong, we helped to sort it out. Group projects or other class activities need not be a competition; when you have good ideas, you can always share them with your classmates. This is also how we should contribute to society.”
For Ms. Rungravee Kattamarasre (major in Tourism and Hospitality Management, Class of 2014), Creative Director and Founder of MISS MODERN, a women’s clothing brand, the COVID-19 outbreak gave her a lot of chance to slow down and take a step back, to refresh and reconnect with everything.
“On the business side, it gave me the opportunity to look for new ideas and opportunities and plan accordingly. While business expenses continue to be incurred and sales figures go down, our company needs to go on. I have my employees to take care of. I want them to use their time effectively. The shortage of surgical masks prompted our teams to develop fabric masks that are both functional and high quality, a good alternative that people can use. We turned our sewing machines from making dresses into making masks,” she said.
To promote personal hygiene and help make masks more available to people, Rungravee’s company launched a project called ‘Buy One, Give One.’ For every set of fabric masks that customers buy, they will get one extra mask that they can give to a person who needs it. “On top of that, part of the profit that we get from selling our clothes and masks will be added to the donation as well,” she added.
Aside from this, Rungravee networked with several individuals and groups in pooling together donations like alcohol sanitizers, fabric masks, rice and other food items that they had received from numerous sponsors and distribute them in a more organized manner.
From late April to early May, her group distributed donations and meals to people in need in four districts in Bangkok (Phuttamonton Sai 3, Buengrum, Punniwithi, and Bangbuathong). They also distributed alcohol sanitizers and fabric masks to several temples in the capital city. Aside from this, they also sent 3,000 masks to soldiers in the three southern border provinces.
Rungravee attributed credit to MUIC for helping develop in her the desire to help other people. “MUIC gave me far more than what I had hoped to achieve from my studies. Aside from the bigger skill sets such as collaboration, networking, time management and creative thinking, MUIC also gave me the courage and confidence to go the extra mile.”