Wichan “Ob” Samutvaree was selected as the first Moken to train through Khao Lak’s Ecotourism Training Center, or ETC. The center began in response to the 2004 tsunami to teach and train disadvantaged Thai people to become certified divemasters.
Samutvaree and the 10 other students he trains with could never have afforded the cost of diving and training without the help of the ETC. Focusing on Thai nationals rather than foreigners, the ETC staff trains students in the areas of conservation, diving, computer skills and English. The students also learn skills to help them get a job during the low season or if they decide not to pursue a diving career.
After graduation, Samutvaree hopes to come back to his village, open a dive shop and lead tours into his Moken community. He is an example of what the ETC is trying to accomplish.