Thailand’s Condom King granted Skoll
and Bill Gates awards
Many of the problems of our modern world, ranging from disease to
drugs to crime to terrorism, derive from the inequalities between the rich
and the poor ... be they rich nation versus poor nation or rich community
versus poor community. It is in the best interests of the well-off to help
empower those who are not as well-off to improve their lives.” - Jeff Skoll
On March 27, on behalf of the Population and Community Development
Association (PDA), Mechai Viravaidhya received the Skoll Award and Grant for
Social Entrepreneurship Program.
The fifth annual Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship was held at
the University of Oxford in England, and the awards were granted to 11
organizations working around the world in the areas of tolerance and human
rights, health, environmental sustainability, peace and security, and
economic and social equity. The recipients each received three-year grants
of $1 million and join a growing global network of Skoll social
entrepreneurs, now numbering 59, who have created innovative, proven
solutions for tackling the world’s most urgent social and economic
Viravaidhya receiving the Gates Award for Global Health in 2007.
The Skoll Foundation was established in 1999 by eBay’s first president, Jeff
Skoll, who serves as founder and chairman. The foundation’s innovative
approach to philanthropy is based on the belief that small investments can
spur significant social change.
This latest award comes less than one year after the PDA was granted the
Bill Gates Global Health Program Award in May 2007 for its outstanding
family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention program. The $1 million Gates Award
- the world’s largest prize for international health - honors extraordinary
efforts to improve health in developing countries. A jury of international
health leaders selected PDA from more than 90 nominees.
PMTV communications director Sue Kukarja had a chance to visit Mechai, the
founder and chairman of PDA at the Birds and Bees Resort and Cabbages and
Condoms restaurant to find out more about their activities.
At this resort you are surrounded by a tropical rainforest with a
spectacular ocean views. The tranquil environment makes for an idyllic
hideaway for travelers and residents of Thailand alike. The complete
facilities of the resort are set in a lush tropical garden overflowing with
orchids and other native flowers with ponds and streams that provide a
natural sanctuary for birds and bees, rabbits, and local fauna.
And then we found out that this is not just about luxury and enjoyment. Both
the restaurant and resort were created to provide financial support for the
Population and Community Development Association or (PDA), Thailand’s
foremost non-governmental charitable organization. Money spent at this
resort contributes to Thailand’s rural development, education and
scholarships, HIV/AIDS education and environmental protection.
Sue Kukarja sits with Mechai Viravaidhya (right) for an exclusive interview.
As a young economist working for the government in Thailand, Mechai
Viravaidya saw a link between rapid population growth and poverty. He
launched the PDA in 1974 to distribute contraceptives and introduce sex
education in rural communities and schools. The population growth rate
dropped from 3.2 percent in 1974 to 0.5 percent in 2005.
In the early 1990s, when HIV/AIDS hit Thailand, Mechai harnessed the PDA
network and media and launched an aggressive public education campaign
amongst the rural poor in Thailand. Since then his name has been synonymous
with prevention - literally. Many locals don’t use the word “condom”
anymore; instead, they are called “mechais.”
“The world needs more leaders like Mechai, who are willing to tackle taboo
subjects like sex and HIV/AIDS directly in order to save lives,” said Dr
Nils Daulaire, president and CEO of the Global Health Council.
For Community Development and Social Entrepreneurship, the organization has
enlisted private partners in over 450 Village Development Partnership
programs that enable the poor to generate income without having to migrate
to cities. By 2011, PDA plans to expand the partnership program to at least
100 more villages.
Mechai Viravaidhya served as a senator, a minister of the Office of the
Prime Minister twice, in 1991 and 1992, when he assisted the former Prime
Minister Anand Panyarachun in establishing a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS
prevention policy and program. He has also served as government spokesman,
deputy minister of industry, governor of the Provincial Waterworks
Authority, and chairman of Krung Thai Bank Public Company Limited and the
Telephone Organization of Thailand. He was appointed as the Ambassador for
UNAIDS in 1999.
Mechai sets out his vision. “PDA’s mission is to eradicate poverty by
tackling the root cause, not the consequence, of poverty. Traditional
welfare approach has seldom succeeded, for it has only addressed the
consequence of poverty. PDA believes the only road out of poverty is through
business, by moving from aid to trade, and so we need more business
entrepreneurs to join in the program as a partner or to help and teach the
underprivileged people how to do business.”
For more information about the PDA, and how you can participate in the
program, go to www.pda.or.th.
Khiri Travel and Riksja Online
donate to the Government
Orphanage School in Luang Prabang
Khiri Travel Director Frans Betgem hands
over the donations
to Mr. Sengchan, the Headmaster of the school.
Frans Betgem, Director
Last week Khiri Travel and Dutch company Riksja Online surprised the
pupils of the Government Orphanage School in Luang Prabang, Laos with a
donation comprising several hundred school uniforms, two large cooking
pots and two boxes with toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap.
The Government Orphanage School is located on the outskirts of Luang
Prabang and at this moment houses 393 orphans and children from poor
Khiri Travel Director Frans Betgem personally handed over the donations
to Mr. Sengchan, the Headmaster of the school. “We feel very honoured to
be able to lend a helping hand, also on behalf of the clients of our
Dutch partner Riksja online,” Frans admitted.
Khiri Travel Co., Ltd. is rapidly growing as one of the leading inbound
travel companies for Thailand and Indochina, with eight office in the
region. Riksja Online is a Dutch internet travel company.
D2 hosts the monthly Skål International Chiang Mai get-together
“Elephant Parade” and Soroptimist concerns
Skål members and guests gather for a
The Chiang Mai & North Thailand Chapter of Skål International,
the largest world-wide association of Tourism & Travel Professionals,
held their monthly get-together at Chiang Mai’s D2 Hotel. This group
photo of happy faces reflects the enjoyment of members and guests who
were able to attend - the Management and Staff of D2 certainly pulled
out all the stops to ensure this prestigious Skål group had a successful
dinner meeting. Which they did!
In keeping with Skål International’s policy of promoting and encouraging
tourism projects world-wide, the local Chiang Mai Chapter featured “The
Elephant Parade” which was presented by Khun Lena of Art Core Co. Ltd.
The “Parade” was a display of beautifully crafted “trendy” elephants -
from small to huge - painted in ways to suggest they were anything but
elephants! One elephant looked very cuddly in the colours of a St.
Bernard dog, whilst another looked very sophisticated in zebra stripes.
Elephants are an endangered species and are very dear to the heart of
Chiang Mai. They are also, of course, very dear to the heart of the Skål
President, Khun Anchalee Kalmapljit, who runs the Elephant Life
Experience Camp at Maetaman Valley, Chiang Mai. The “Elephant Parade”
will be displayed in several Chiang Mai city public areas, probably next
November, to raise awareness of and funds for elephants. Tourists and
visitors to Chiang Mai are sure to be delighted by what they see.
Another special guest at Skål’sMarch dinner meeting was Dr Carolina
Thomson, of Soroptimists International, who drew Skål members’ attention
to the plight of many abused and neglected mothers and their children
right here in our northern regions. The community is grateful to Skål
International, Chiang Mai & North Thailand Chapter, for its success in
promoting tourism to Northern Thailand, and for its social conscience
which allows that the disadvantaged can also benefit from the work of
the Travel & Tourism Industry.
JJ Markets announce their 2008 Talent Competition
The race is on
The Mayor of Chiang Mai, Dr Duentemduang na
(3rd from left), presenting the trophy to Simple Tone,
the winners of JJ Markets’ Talent Competition 2007.
It was announced last week that the heats of JJ Markets’ Talent
Competition will be held from May this year with the finals taking place
on December 4.The competition is open to all residents of Chiang Mai
between the ages of 15 and 25, and each round will be on the 2nd Friday
of each month. May, June, July and October is set aside for Thai bands,
August will be for solo singers and duets, whilst September is allocated
for foreign bands and singers. Bands who sing in Thai, even though they
have foreigners in their group, will be classed as Thai bands. Each band
must sing two songs, one of which must be an original.
Every month 5 acts will compete; spectators as well as judges can vote
for the winner of each round, who will then go through to the final on
December 4. The runner up of each round will be able to have a second
chance by competing in the semi finals held in November. Acts will be
competing for a trophy plus prize money totalling 60,000 baht.
Last year, the eventual winners were Simple Tone. Wim Fagel, the GM of
the Amari Rincome, was so impressed that he engaged them to play at the
hotel on Christmas Eve, and they were also invited to perform at the 4th
Annual Rooftop Party held earlier this year. Because the majority of
acts come from schools in the area, the organisers are arranging for
reasonably priced food and drink to be available. There is plenty of
parking at JJ Markets’ location. To send in your demo tape or for
further enquires please contact 053 231 520 or 080 132 2809.
Alternatively send/drop in your tape to JJ Markets, 45 Assadathon Road,
T. Patun. Chiang Mai 50300.