Story and Photos by Joy Dunning
A minute before I realize which building houses the Ruam Mit Bakery, I can smell it and my nose guides me the rest of the way. The sweet aroma of cake brought out of the oven just before my arrival greets me along with the eight friendly faces of the baking team. Walking into the spotlessly clean kitchen, I immediately notice how familiar everyone is with each other. The Ruam Mit baking team of eight people, their baking trainer, and the three person managing staff are like a large family and there is a lot of joking, smiling, and laughing. The team lives up to the name "Ruam Mit", which was chosen because it means "social cohesion among diverse elements resulting in enjoyable moments of friendship." There is also a Thai dessert called ruam mit that combines many ingredients to create its lovely flavor.
The Ruam Mit Bakery's purpose is as unique as it's name. The Bakery is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) project providing job skills to recovered drug users. The baking team is made up of men and women ranging in age from early teens to late twenties who share a common past and, more importantly, a common goal to create a meaningful life free of drugs. Drug use is a sensitive issue in every culture and many people who have cleaned up their life are still confronted with judgment and often find it difficult to get work. The lack of support in the community often promotes the desire to return to drug use, thus continuing the cycle.
Ruam Mit Bakery breaks this cycle of drug use by creating an environment that supports and empowers its team. After introductions to the staff and the team, I watch the bakery's trainer, Nok, teach the team how to make jam filled roll cakes. She patiently watches and critiques as each person attempts to transform the thin sheet cake into a delicate looking, delicious tasting roll cake. Everyone in the kitchen laughs and teases each other good-naturedly. It is apparent that self-esteem runs high at Ruam Mit and that the goal is to learn through hands-on experience. The team is trained for a six-month period, after which they have gained sufficient skills to find outside employment and a new team comes in.
The project advisor, Zarina, project coordinator, Teang, and office manager, Apple, are a nurturing, innovated, and capable work force. They all relay the importance of self-empowerment through the program they have created. At lunch, the group generously feeds me a meal cooked by two team members. The staff and team traditionally eat together and as I sit with them I feel very fortunate to be visiting a project that creates a comfortable and non-judgmental environment, which encourages the confidence in team members that will ultimately ease their transition into society.
I leave the Bakery feeling impressed by this groups proactive commitment to achieve their goals and an assortment of amazing baked products, including whole-wheat multigrain bread, whole-wheat sesame, whole-wheat sun-dried tomato basil, whole-wheat olive, and whole-wheat pumpkin bread, healthy muesli, chocolate and ginger snap cookies, miniature pineapple pies, and of course, jam filled roll up cake, all fresh from the oven. It is all as mouth wateringly delicious as it sounds.
The Ruam Mit Bakery has a large assortment of tasty and nutritious products including ten kinds of whole wheat bread, many cakes, many cookies, muesli, and organic homegrown herbs. They are located at 14/11 RajChiang Saen 2n Rd. Ruam Mit only makes as many goodies as they can sell, so be sure to call first to place an order as to not be disappointed. Their products can be bought at Aden Health Food 419/20 Thanon Vitchyanon, kitty corner to the President Hotel, the phone number is 232692. Aden has another store on Thanon Sirimangkalajarn the phone number is 895190. Lanna store on Thanon Huay Kaew 81 also carries their products. Ruam Mit makes fresh deliveries on Tuesdays and Fridays. To place an order, please call (053) 274176, 284802 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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