Vol. VII No. 15 - Tuesday
April 8, - April 14, 2008



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


OUR COMMUNITY
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thailand’s Condom King granted Skoll and Bill Gates awards

Khiri Travel and Riksja Online donate to the Government Orphanage School in Luang Prabang

D2 hosts the monthly Skål International Chiang Mai get-together

JJ Markets announce their 2008 Talent Competition

Thailand’s Condom King granted Skoll and Bill Gates awards

Sue Kukarja
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 challenges.

Mechai 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.

PMTV 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 families.
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 souvenir shot.

CMM Reporters
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 Chiengmai,
(3rd from left), presenting the trophy to Simple Tone,
the winners of JJ Markets’ Talent Competition 2007.

CMM Reporters
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.



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