Once an extravagant girl, Noi has learned to break away from her habits of old, and now is content to earn just a meagre amount of money as long as it is honestly made.
Female inmates help to plan a marketing strategy for their cosmetic products as part of entrepreneurial skill training offered at the Women’s Correctional Institution for Drug Addicts in Pathum Thani. APICHIT JINAKUL
An inmate at the Women's Correctional Institution for Drug Addicts in Pathum Thani, Noi has spent the 14 months since she started her sentence trying to come to terms with the errors of the past.
With the help of outside advisers, she also is making plans for her new life outside prison when she regains her freedom in three years.
Noi and 79 other inmates take part in the prison's rehabilitation programme which includes advice on saving money and career training.
She says she has learned the "real value" of money, and of forging an honest career rather than relying on the proceeds of crime as she did before.
"The money I make in here is small but, in terms of value, it comes from work... honest work," the 23-year-old detainee said.
The courses offered inside have cheered up her life behind bars and given her a break from prison routines.
Years ago her boyfriend talked her into selling drugs at her factory in Pathum Thani. It was risky, she admitted, but it was easy to make a large amount of money in a short time.
She enjoyed spending money to buy things she wanted, often spending wastefully.
When she was arrested, her life became very small. Her boyfriend fled, and only her mother visited her regularly in jail.
Despite her limited freedom, Noi has begun to shape up her life, and now plans for a happier future.
She is taught to value even the meagre earnings she makes from performing tasks at the prison.
Although she makes less than 60 baht a month, Noi is salting the money away together with a monthly allowance which her mother sends her. One day she hopes to open a small food shop with the savings.
Other inmates have similar dreams of being small entrepreneurs. They, too, are getting advice in revenue management and vocational skills.
Nan, a 31-year-old former drug addict, has chosen to learn massage and bakery at the prison. One day she wants to run a small bakery shop of her own.
Like Noi, Nan has high hopes for her life outside, a new path that will lead her away from the lucrative but immoral drug trade into which she was lured by her boyfriend.
Experts from Kenan Institute Asia and Citibank, who teach marketing and household accounting classes at the prison, agree these women need to know how to run businesses and manage money to improve their chances on the outside.
These skills will also help keep from away from drugs, Hassaya Hasitabhan, Citibank's senior vice-president for corporate affairs said.
Prison director Thikhamphon Wichianchuea said embarking on careers as small entrepreneurs will help improve the inmates' chances.
As ordinary employees they could face stigma from employers unwilling to take on former jailbirds as workers.
"We want to change their attitudes, and make them really appreciate the value of work and money," she said.
About the author
- Writer: Penchan Charoensuthipan