Mother of Down syndrome girl turns scrap into success

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Ontiwa Bensan has turned her life around by turning people’s castoffs into sought-after prizes and can now provide a stable lifestyle for her Down syndrome-afflicted daughter.
Ontiwa Bensan has turned her life around by turning people’s castoffs into sought-after prizes and can now provide a stable lifestyle for her Down syndrome-afflicted daughter.

A poor market vendor has turned her life around by turning people’s castoffs into sought-after prizes.

Ontiwa Bensan, 49, makes baskets out of discarded aluminum cans. They’ve become so popular, she’s expanded to her business to offer handbags and can now provide a stable lifestyle for her Down syndrome-afflicted daughter.

Reporters caught up with Ontiwa Dec. 15 at the Nongprue Sub-district office where she was applying for government welfare for her daughter Patiman, who is entitled to 800 baht a month.

She used to make about 300 baht a day selling aluminum baskets, but applied for support for her business from the government, which runs an occupational-development fund that pays up to 109,500 baht a year to qualified small businesses.

Nongprue approved some funding for her venture and, with the funds, she was able to expand her operation and now takes earns 1,000 baht a day from the little tin baskets. Having just started selling handbags, she hopes her income will grow even more, giving her disabled daughter a better chance in life.