Fellow Since 2000
The Development of Older People Group
This profile was prepared when Weerapong Kangwarnnawakul was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2000.
The New Idea
To harness the energy and experience of people aged fifty and older, Weerapong is establishing clubs to engage them in activities that greatly enrich the community and bridge traditional and modern ways of life. The clubs provide a life-saving outlet for many older people who might otherwise spend the last twenty or thirty years of their lives in a state of inactivity, neglect, or abuse. As older people provide the community's only link to a former era, important aspects of heritage, such as knowledge of traditional lifestyle, farming methods, and story traditions, are in danger of dying with them. To date, Weerapong has helped organize clubs that make traditional toys for village children, tend local herb gardens for producing traditional medicines, plan festivals, and develop a variety of other activities. Finally, he is encouraging club members to play a greater role in tackling pressing community problems such as garbage clean-up and government corruption at the local level.