[Photo Sparks] Humour with resilience: social entrepreneur 'Mr Condom' Mechai Viravaidya
In the earlier 30 posts of PhotoSparks, we brought you creative photographs from an art fair, music festival, telecom expo, art museum, mobile showcase, math museum, social hackathon, bookstore, co-working space, sensorium, lantern festival, outdoor ads, startup roadshow, computer museum, startup T-shirts, business cards, art therapy, Diwali rangoli, ecopreneurs and eNGOs. In this photo essay, we showcase the humorous side of Thai social entrepreneur Mechai Viravaidya. Make YourStory’s PhotoSparks your regular source of photographs that celebrate creativity and innovation!
During a recent workshop I attended in Bangkok on creativity and innovation, one of the speakers was Mechai Viravaidya, a most unusual social entrepreneur, health activist and community developer who hosted us in his restaurant, ‘Cabbages & Condoms.’ He describes his activities in three phases: creation of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA) in 1974; rural community empowerment via the Village Development Partnership in the wake of the Tsunami in 2004; and youth education through the Mechai Viravaidya Foundation’s Mechai Pattana School and Green Village Toy Library.
These initiatives are funded by donors as well as three social enterprises: ‘Cabbages & Condoms’ restaurant chain, Birds & Bees Resort in Pattaya, and Business for Rural Education and Development (BREAD). Mechai has been referred to as ‘Mr. Condom’ and even ‘Condom King’ for his humorous but impactful communication campaigns on contraceptives, and has been featured in local and international media (including TED, TIME and UpWorthy). The Association is credited with helping reduce the population growth rate as well as size of families in Thailand (from seven children per family in the mid-1970s to under two in 2005), and Mechai was rewarded with the $1 million Gates Award for Global Health by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Here are some photographs from Mechai’s presentation and from his restaurant – showing that humour can be blended with tough truths, and that it takes courage and resilience to break taboos and bring about positive social change in the long run!
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