Swedish Expat’s Idea Creates Income for Poor Bangkok Women

Life in a Bangkok slum is hard enough for most people, but for a single mother with a disabled daughter requiring 24-hour supervision, the struggle is that much tougher.


Wasanna Salimi’s responsibilities trebled 12 years ago when she welcomed into the brood the twin boys of her sister, who had been sent to prison.


With little hope of getting a job, Wasanna has struggled to get by on the 40 baht a day she makes doing laundry for her neighbours.


But all that is changing thanks to a little hard work and a lot of coat hangers. 


“My daughter’s name is Fon. She is 18 years old. I gave premature birth. She is a special girl. I make hangers and fold paper at home so I can take care of my daughter,” says Wasanna in a video made to promote the project, Hang On Hangers. “Now that I make hangers, our lives are better than before.” 


Hang On Hangers is the brainchild of Swedish expat Annika Jonasson, who had been working on projects in Bangkok’s slums for nine years before she came up with an idea that could generate some much-needed income for women living in the Klong Toey slum.


‘Every baht they can make is a help’


The Klong Toey slum community is home to about 100,000 people, mostly rural migrants from northern Thailand who have made the trip south in search of work. With no legal rights to occupy the land, residents live in constant fear of eviction, while even the most basic amenities like fresh water and electricity are in short supply. 


“I had been trying to figure out something these women could do,” says Jonasson. “Something they could do and earn some money. They are very poor and every baht they can make is a help.


“I got the idea of making hangers one day when I was annoyed at how difficult it was to get my tops and blouses to stay on the hangers –- they always slid off. So then I thought of putting fabric on them so the clothes would stay. I also realized all the nice fabrics we could use.”


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