Mechai is better known as ‘Mr. Condom’ due to his successful efforts to reduce poverty by reducing the birth rate in Thailand single-handedly.
For his efforts in various development endeavors, Mechai has been acclaimed with numerous awards, recognition, and honorary doctoral degrees as well as the United Nations Gold Peace Medal (1981), the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service (1994), one of Asiaweek’s “20 Great Asians” (1995), the United Nations Population Award (1997), and one of Time Magazine’s “Asian Heroes” (2006). Mechai and PDA have recently been the recipient of the Bill and Melinda Gates Award for Global Health in 2007, the Skoll Awardees for Social Entrepreneurship in 2008, and the Prince Mahidol Award for Public Health in 2009.
(L to R) Ulrich Werner (Director of International Development, Asian U), Dr. Viphandh Roengpithya (President, Asian U), Mechai Viravaidya (Mr. Condom), Prof. Dr. Kee-Seon Yoo (Global Handong University, Korea), Panit Nilubol (Vice-President, Asian U), in front of the Korean students and Asian U lecturers Ulrike Guelich, Dr. Alessandro Stasi and William Sirinuntananong.
Mechai promotes a grass-root business that requires 1 rai (1,600 sqm) of land of any soil to grow several plants in concrete rings and plastic bags, such as out-of-season lemon and cantaloupe. This way, the grass-roots farmer will earn about 240,000 baht in the first year, and about 360,000 baht any subsequent year.
An example project is installed on the ground of Birds & Bees, the famous hotel in Pratamnak Soi 4, which also hosts the restaurant Cabbages & Condoms that provided a tasty lunch for the visitors from Asian University.
The Asian U president offered to make use of the Asian U campus to help promote this surprisingly simple and effective approach.
Later that day, the Asian U delegation visited 2 rural public schools near Sriracha where the 1-rai solution is about to be implemented to help funding the school, which receives a budget of 60 USD per student per year from the Thai Ministry of Education, from which it also has to provide the daily school lunch.