From the start, our brand MUKAYIMO was initially thought to be, first and foremost, a toy brand that would provide educational toys for children. Through the incredible advantages the eCommerce business model presented us with, we thought of not only supplying children near us but also children all over the world as well.
That was at the beginning, at least. As fate would have it, we would stir up the brand to also focus on helping out children in economically challenged environments. Today, MUKAYIMO dedicates a considerable amount of effort to reach out to children in less fortunate and economically underdeveloped areas.
Why? Simple, due to a set of personal experiences in which we were able to stare straight at the face of economic inequality, the thought occurred to us that we, as a brand, can do something plenty for the less fortunate children.
We set up 'Caring for Thai Children', our own initiative, for that very purpose. By contacting the school principal from a remote Thai school direly needed for assistance, we hoped that we could supply the children with the educational toys they need to develop further.
Needless to say, the smile on their faces once they got them was more than enough to further convince us as a brand that this is one thing we will continue to do in the future. As such, MUKAYIMO's dream is to become a brand that cares for children, helps them develop, and, eventually, grows along with them.
At present, MUKAYIMO designs and produces the most suitable educational toys for children. That said, we believe that the growth and development of children are not only limited by the toys they hold in their hands and play with.
Rather, the full development of them is a matter that involves the whole society around them. As such, we would like to give the children the means of interacting with that society, with that environment, in a fun, seamless, non-pressuring way. The way we came up with it was traditional, educational toys.
Rather than electronics, which often require them to sit still to play, educational toys encourage them to play with them in the world around them. A lot of parents today are surely old enough to remember some of their best childhood memories revolved around playing outside.
It's something we as a brand think it's a precious experience which we think the newer generations should also experience. Unfortunately, not all children get to grow up in an economically well-to-do environment. As much as the world strives to ease the breach between the have and have-nots, it is still there, and we need to deal with it.
One of the most heartbreaking displays of inequality that you could ever come across it's the sight of a child with no toys to play with. Seeing them among just so many other little kids that do have toys and are playing around is particularly sad.
According to the repeated results from different research studies, playtime is more than just play. As far as the healthy development of children goes, playing around has far-reaching implications for their long-term cognitive development.
To summarize it succinctly: the more they play with the world around them, the more familiar they become with it, how it works, how their actions affect it, and how it affects them back. Moreover, this experience is not something that's easy to replicate for electronic toys, which is why physical, educational toys are so important.
Now, knowing that? What of the children that, due to harder economic situations, cannot get their hands on said toys? Besides missing out on the fun, it's very likely they would also lag behind in their cognitive development. Thus, these kids are likely to have fewer opportunities in the future, along with their already dwindling economic prospects. That is something we find unacceptable and are willing to do what is in our power to help with.
As mentioned before, our concern for the less fortunate children came from staring face-to-face at their unfortunate situation. As fate would have it, our founders once found themselves traveling through the less-visited parts of Asia in a tour unrelated to the brand itself. Yet, what they saw definitively defined the MUKAYIMO brand for years to come.
On the mountainous region of Chiang Rai in northern Thailand lie villages that seem forgotten by the passing of time. Lying in the trilateral region between Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar, the terrain serves as a strategic location.
Through the many regional conflicts of the 20th century, it became a base for military troops, mainly Chinese. Said troops saw the need to develop the bare mountainous landscape in order to subsist there. Thus, they raised a village that, due to the logistics of bringing resources up to the terrain, had only the bare essentials.
Over time, a soldier stationed there raised families but, as conflicts waned, troops slowly abandoned the place, yet, many civilians remained. Since there was no strategic interest in upkeeping the outpost now turned civilian village anymore, its development stagnated. We saw this with our own eyes in the most striking form: the less fortunate children that lived there.
Among once majestic buildings that are now but dilapidated shadows of themselves with cracks on their façade and shabby, improvised rooftops, small children go to school to learn from an ever-dwindling number of teachers.
Despite the staggering development and cultural renaissance China enjoyed in the last decades, many Chinese settlements remain forgotten. The Methlin National Minor School located in Meifa Nong County, Chiang Rai Prefecture of Northern Thailand, is one of those places.
Add the deteriorated state of the school buildings, the scarce school funding, low teacher salaries, and little economic development of the village, and it becomes clear that these less fortunate kids have little chances of getting toys to play with. But not if we could help it.
As of late, the regrettable state of remote Chinese settlement caught the attention of several Chinese entrepreneurs. As of today, there are a couple of charity organizations aimed at donating to these settlements to improve their living conditions. Thinking of these kids we saw that had nothing to play with, we felt compelled to do something about it.
That is what leads us to set up the 'Caring for Thai Children' initiative and, in the process, make us realize that MUKAYIMO is as much about educational toys as it is about caring about the kids that will enjoy playing with them. We are both humbled and honored to provide them with one fun way to grow, learn, and develop as proper human beings.