Why we are Helping and how YOU can get involved

The remote villages of Laos have never recovered from the 'Secret' war of the 1960's. While rich in culture and tradition, their education, healthcare and hygiene conditions are severely lacking. The average lifespan is only 56 years and average age is only 20.8, caused by poor quality water, poor hygiene and general poverty. BUT with your help we have already made a difference in the lives of over 2700 villagers.

We have built schools in the villages of Pha Yong and Had Chanh, and a 3rd school located in Done Lom is under construction. We have also distributed over 200 water filters systems and completed hygiene training for three entire villages. Each family is required to take this course before a filter is provided, in order to promote a longer, healthier and happier life. A new water source including a dam, water tank and taps has been completed, as has our first bank of hygienic toilets.

It doesn't stop there. We have requests for 34 new projects and with your help, will do what we can to support as many requests as possible.

You can help in so many different ways. Before you do though, note that less than 5% will go to direct overhead costs, contrary to many NGO's who's overheads can reach 80%. Sponsors for every project will receive emailed pictures and details of how the money was spent.

Here are some examples of how you can help with your financial contribution.

- $55 buys a water purification filter for a family of 8.
It will also include your name on the water filter and a picture forwarded to you with the family and the filter unit.
- $12,500 US buys a school for grades 1, 2 and 3. Perhaps you would like to sponsor or assist us to sponsor a school.
- $4,000 US (approx) buys school tables and desks for a three room school and a two-room kindergarten.
- $700 US (approx) pays for a teacher for one year
- $50 US buys education for one child for one year including school fees, 2 uniforms, shoes, backpack and school supplies.
hygienic washroom facilities rane depending on the number of stalls and start at about $3000, but are critical to prevent more disease.

If you would like to become involved and to help the people of rural Laos help themselves lead a more fulfilling life, please email us at AdoptaVillageinLaos@gmail.com. Official Tax Receipts are not yet possible although we hope to receive charitable status this summer. Meanwhile we would still love to hear of your interest.

Please help............we cannot do this alone....

Meanwhile, please enjoy our updates below.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Traditional Dress

Lisa McCoy from Gravenhurst, Ontario and Pauline Johns from Australia arrived on Christmas Day. In fact their flight arrived a half hour early - unheard of in these parts! What a pleasant surprise. I expected that we would be waiting close to an hour before we would see their faces through the arrivals window but they were waiting for us! We had our own entourage including Bounmy's mother from Pha Yong Village to greet them at the airport.

From the airport we dropped off their luggage at the house and enjoyed a celebatory drink with them before heading downtown to a French restaurant and cafe to get them something to eat. They were a little shocked, OK well may be quite shocked at the whole experience. They had been to Laos before but were not expecting private bedrooms, let alone private bathrooms and internet, and a French Bistro to enjoy a Christmas dinner. I would imagine that their accomodations in Cambodia were similar to the village huts we stay in during our travels. Anyway, they are anxious to get into the villages and prefer to skip the touristy things that I had planned for them so that is what we will do AND they will have the experience of celebrating Khamu New Years at Had Chanh and Pha Yong village, complete with traditional costumes.

Speaking of traditional dress, I promised you some pictures of the Mong tribe traditional dress. When we did the official school opening in Pha Yong village, the Mong tribe showed us deep respect by wearing the traditional uniforms and their children in school uniforms.

Above: Chief's Administrator
Upper Right: 1st Chief - Pha Yong Village
Bottom Left: Mother and Daughter all dressed up for the occasion.

These are pictures of the 1st and 2nd chief of Had Chanh Village

The following are pictures of some of the school children, taken with the school water filters.
Pha Yong School (Above)
Had Chanh School childrent in front of their school (Bottom)
So we are now off for breakfast on Boxing Day and hope to show our guests a high school and a hospital so they can get the true feeling of the struggles facing them.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tours with Ted, Jennifer H, Jennifer M and Mike

Now that our first group has left and I have successfully managed to email most of our wonderful sponsors for the forst two villages, namely HadChanh and Pha Yong with a photo of family members with their new water filters, it is time to relive the experiences and time for reflection.

Of course there had been a lot of preparations for their arrival but it was so wonderful to be able to share real experiences with our truly amazing guests. As a short recap, Jennifer Mercer, proprietor of Jenn's Dance It Up Studio, Jennifer Hawthorne who offered to teach English and Ted Amsden our infamous photojournalist from Northumberland Today.
Ted was a real trouper carrying his camera luggage everywhere he went - I seriously doubt that I would have been able to lug it around and still enjoy myself but he did and never complained once. In fact he stated a couple of times that he would love to come back. I asked him to tell us what his greatest memory, good or bad, was and he said the destitute feeling he had when visiting a 10 bed hospital about 25km from Luang Prabang. I think all of us were in shock over that one. We had never experienced anything so bad.

Note that this was the cleanest room of the entire hospital and with no water except when it rained.
Being the cleanest room, imagine the birthing room and the examination room - we were told they do surgery there but I think it is more for cuts that require minor stiching after looking at the tools they use. Nothing was clean and everything hazardous is either burned or buried on site in the backyard of the hospital. Needless to say we won't be putting a well there.

In fact nobody complained at all and just went with the flow. Jennfer Hawthorn was game for anything, wanted to experience everything and I believe, enjoyed every single experience. She mentioned that her most joyious moment of her trip was the teaching of English in Pha Yong Village to the school children. I tried my hand at it because there were two classrooms of students to teach and I certainly didn't have the knack that she did - If I sang like she and Jennifer Mercer did I can tell you the kids would have run out of the class howling. I will post a couple of pictures of this once Ted has had a chance to review them.

Jenn Mercer...better known as Diva Jenn. What can I say about her? She was cheerful the entire time and it couldn't have been easy while expecting a child. She was a bit taken back by some of the food that was being offered like a pigs head and wasn't too impressed with the hygiene in the villages but Diva Jen came through with flying colours. Lots of pink to be specific. The kids loved her as you can see below.

Here is a sampling of some of the other highlites and lowlites of their visit.

Having fun with the Governor of Muang Ngoi District during the official opening of Had Chanh School. Wonder who had the most Baci strings?

Obviously Mike - he cheated because he still had the ones on from our previous visit.

What a sight. This is what we saw as we arrived after a 1 1/2 hour trek to the school in Pha Yong Village. New addition to the school looked perfect, water filters for every family and the school and the Canadian Flag flying high. Jen Hawthorn went a little soft when she saw the flag.

This is the new location for the school in Done Lom Village. It is waiting to be checked for bombs and landmines before clearing the land.

In this barren area a school once stood. In fact I received a picture of it back in June and it was in desperate need of help. The school finally succumbed to the rainy season and it had to be taken down completely for safety purposes. The village has borrowed the open aired community centre from the government, seen in the distance.

These pictures are of a secondary and high school for a district located about 20km from Luang Prabang. The left picture shows class being held in a storage unit under the school. We discovered major termite damage. Even some of the beams looked like they were rotting right through. they have only asked us to help them finish off a separate building to hold three classrooms at a cost of about $6,000USD plus there are only 6 toilets for 1300 students.
They not only need classrooms and toilets, they need a new school.
There are so many more pictures I will be sharing with you. In my next entry I will provide pics of the village chiefs and traditional costumes in celebration of their New Year, held early in honour of our visit.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

My Longest Hour

This last week has been interesting, frustrating at times, emotionally fulfilling at other times. For some reason all the days run together - I cannot remember one day from the next because they do not take weekends off, except for the banks and government institutions.

Anyway, sometime early last week Somnuek the manager from Le Belair Resort and Hotel, took me to Nong Khiaw, a short 2 1/2 hour ride, to meet some of the officials I will be working with in the future. We met with the General Manager of Education and the General Manager of Hygiene and Water. Both expressed their gratitude for our support and interest in the Muang Ngoi District of Luang Prabang. It appears they had done their homework well and were prepared and waiting for my arrival. Before I left, I had 11 new school projects they requested assistance for, and 6 villages that still had no reliable water source. I can only imagine how the villages survive. I will be trekking to many of these villages to see for myself of course but one of them is a five hour trek each way! What is worse is that it appears that the school there is in the worst shape of all of the villages so I have no choice but to go there first.

Next was a meeting with the Governor of Muang Ngoi who was considerably late and as an apology, took us for lunch to get to know me a little better. He knew that we had accidentally skipped some of the government processes and joked with us saying that he wished we would do more like that because it saves them a lot of red tape. This is of course translated from something that if translated word for word into English would mean something like 'we stole two schools and wishes we would steal more'. The local government priority there is to build as a minimum, temporary access roads to the remaining 48 villages that do not even have that. Naturally he asked for our assistance with whatever we could do to help - otherwise it is going to take 10-15 years.

I am still waiting to receive pictures taken with these wonderful people and will edit this post when I receive them.

Now to my longest hour....

This day started one day late to begin with. The water filters were to arrive in Luang Prabang the previous day and they had requested someone to go with them to Nong Khiaw because they didn't know the way. So we sent for Khamlath's father who came all the way down from Had Chanh village - later we found out he wasn't needed. The filters arrived a day late. Once we were informed of this, there was no way to contact Pha Yong village. After many, many calls, reception to the village just wasn't there. The only way to contact them was by public radio broadcast and that is exactly what happened. By the time the radio announcement was made, all the villagers had already made the trek to the river when someone heard the radio announcement. Wow....I wondered how they would react when they saw me but there was no need to worry.

So, one day late and, an extra passenger that didn't need to be there, we left at 7am in the morning. We drove 5 minutes and found the truck on the side of the road, partially unloaded trying to fit two blackboards into the back of the truck. They had picked someone up along the way, presumably to make a little money on the side and that person had bales of string she was taking to Nong Khiaw. Another half hour went by as we mounted the blackboards to the top of the van and we were off again to pick up two ladies (Bonnie and her stunning daughter Penelope from LA) I had met at the hotel, to share our adventure.

So, everyone aboard, we headed out to catch and beat the truck to Nong Khiaw so we could hire local labour to unload the truck and load the boats. We had driven for about an hour before we heard a pop - it sounded like one of the strings holding the blackboard may have popped so we stopped again to take a peek - nothing apparent so we drove for another few km until I started to hear a rubbing noise. It sounded like the back tire was rubbing so we stopped again. Sure enough, the back passenger wheel was rubbing against the back of the wheel well. Immediately I knew what the popping noise was. It was a mounting bolt that had popped and the whole rear axle had shifted. Crap! In hindsight I should never have let the ladies back in the van - this was indeed serious. For some reason, we got back in the van and crept along for probably no more than 5 minutes and wouldn't you know it...there was a little shack on the side of the road that just happened to do motor bike repairs but was obviously versatile. He took a look, figured he could fix it although he didn't have the bolt we needed, so he welded one! An hour later we were back on the road and I was expecting to be hit hard being a 'phlang' (meaning foreigner) and all. It cost equivalent to $4. Yes, only four dollars!

Once we got to the dock, laborers were easy to find but we all pitched in. Instead of two boats we needed four. Here are a few pictures.

Now it was time to man the boats, one or two of us in each boat. Of course I got the tippy boat - not being a strong swimmer, I can tell you the next hour was perhaps one of the most harrowing experiences I have had. Even starting off I thought we were going to tip over. I think the captain of the boat did too - he had this sickly, worried look on his face the whole time. I wished I'd had a camera. Every time we came up to a turn or hit a bit of current, we both had to lean over to keep the boat ride side up. In most places the river was not terribly deep and the driver hit bottom several times so I can't say I was worried about surviving the trip...but the water filters that I had worked so hard to raise money for, the endless hours of planning and organization of various fundraisers, the stress of preparing for the trip, the upcoming projects, the meetings......
As we rounded the last bend in the river and approached the shoreline nearest Pha Yong Village, my emotions got the best of me. There they were, 83 families, their kids, the two chiefs waiting on the side of the river. All of a sudden everything led to this amazing, remarkable...in fact there are just no words to describe this event. I wish you all could have been there. Even one of the ladies I think was a little teary eyed. Every bit of effort by myself, Mike and all those that helped us was all worth it. I am awaiting a couple more pictures from the ladies but I won't get them for a few weeks but I will edit this blog entry and insert them - I know that they took some pretty awesome pictures as we approached the shore.

After Pha Yong we continued to Had Chanh Village and helped bring everything up the river bank to the village. In the evening a baci was held in honour of two visiting ladies. This was a memory for them that will never be forgotten - in fact they said it was life altering for them. For once I could say I actually knew how they felt. I sure hope they contact me.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Return to Laos - November 2010

Its Official!

We are now an incorporated Not-For-Profit Organization. It was a bit of a wait but certainly worth it. Now our next step is to apply for charitable status and be able to issue tax receipts for qualified individuals. This is estimated to take at least a year. Meanwhile a few dollars can go a long way in Laos. For example a $50 dinner for two buys a water filter for a family of 6 or 8 for years to come, saving the agony of illness caused by water borne bacteria.

Please note that our current directors are as follows;

President: Steve Rutledge
Secretary: Cleve Pendock
Treasurer: Ron Coleman

As we prepare our next submission to the government, I am currently in Luang Prabang preparing for a revisit to Pha Yong and Had Chanh Villages. I have now purchased school supplies and will be purchasing gifts for the children of these villages. We already have donated Tshirts, toothbrushes and toothpaste. While we didn't have enough space to bring more, there will be at least two new toothbrushes per family - currently they share one toothbrush per family!

Tomorrow I am off with Mr. Somnuek Bounsa, manager of Le Belair Resort to visit the District Vice Governor, a Hygiene official and an Education official from the Muang Ngoi District, followed by a vist to three villages including the one village that currently uses a mud hole as their water source. This is the village that I will likely be giving final approval for the sponsorship or a new water source.

Following that, on Tuesday we are expecting a large shipment of 155 water filters to arrive in Luang Prabang and onwards to Nong Khiaw. Then they get loaded onto boats and shipped up the Nam Ou (River). Some will get dropped off to the riverbank closest to Pha Yong and manually transported one by one to the village approximately 2 hours away. The rest will be shipped to Had Chanh Village, thankfully right at the top of the river bank. So yes, it will be another very long day.

I will be returning to Luang Prabang on Wednesday to complete our shopping for the guests coming on December 6. This also needs to be shipped to the villages in advance of their arrival!
I almost forgot - somewhere in the mix I will be moving to a Salanoy located close to downtown Luang Prabang. I signed the lease today but just haven't figured out where I am going to find the time to move everything.

As you can see, my schedule is a little daunting but everything always works out, just not quite the way I imagined it. I expect that my next posting will include lots of pictures.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pha Yong Village Update

This summer and fall has been a whirlwind. All of a sudden it is time to leave for Laos again.

When we returned from Luang Prabang at the end of the spring, I had no idea what the summer would hold for us. I knew there were a lot of desperate pleas from various villages to assist. When I received pictures of the one village with just a mud hole to drink from, my heart just sank then a little determination took over...OK...a lot of determination. Raising funds for a local cause is one thing but raising funds for another country half a world away just seemed the impossible dream.

Both Mike and I just couldn't believe the response. We had our first function and sold out in two weeks from launch and good-hearted citizens just seemed to come out of the wood work. It was then that I realized just how many people I actually knew and how many people wanted to help by doing their own fundraisers. In three months there were 5 fundraisers. On the other side of the coin I started working with some of the Rotarians that I knew. Every club I presented to, donated or committed to donate. Further, through a blog I set up (OK so I had some wonderful help) it was amazing to see just how many people have been reading it and how many new contacts I made. In fact one of them will be visiting us in Laos over Christmas. This wonderful lady from Gravenhurst has indicated serious interest in helping us to build more schools, buy library books and do a bicycle distribution in Laos. Even more amazing, through her contacts I was also asked to put together a much larger proposal for next year - to put this in perspective, it would be equivalent to sponsoring 12 schools! Another highlight was that we are just waiting for our Not-For-Profit official paperwork. As of today we are told that it will probably be another couple of weeks before we see it.

I think the largest driving force for me was to see our pictures on the front page of GO magazine (a quarterly magazine of the Northumberland News) and the accompanying article. The article was well thought out and written. Now we have no choice but to live up to that. The magazine is certainly well read in our community. Since then I still get a lot of positive comments.

Before I continue though, I wanted to give the latest update on Pha Yong village. I think the pressure is on for them as they try to finish before all the local Government Officials arrive with us to officially open the school in just four weeks. Remember this is all manual labour. Here are a few pics of the progress.

They still have to parge the entire left side of the building but it is looking pretty good. They have also had a problem matching paint colours. After two visits to Luang Prabang (over 6 hours each way), the supplier still hasn't managed to match up the colours.

It will certainly be wonderful to see our first two projects there completed.

So there you have it in a nutshell. I was going to give special thanks to some of the special people who helped us make this happen but to be frank I am not only likely to miss someone and regret it forever, but there are over 200 special people and organizations that did whatever they could manage ranging from $3 up to thousands. Every single dollar will go a long way and I am getting excited to be able to share with you exactly where your money will be spent.

Still I would like to thank the various Clubs of Rotary including Whitby Rotary, Port Hope Rotary, Northumberland Sunrise Rotary and Oshawa Rotary. There are additional Rotary Clubs also that we have made good contacts with. Thank You to All.

Next, I have to figure out how we are going to take 544 toothbrushes, over 200 tubes of toothpaste, over 200 T-shirts, solar garden lights and a host of other things, in our luggage. Cathay Pacific has been kind enough to sponsor an extra bag but they only fly to Bangkok. I am trying to work with Bangkok Airways to see if they will help for the last leg of the journey but it doesn't look good at this stage because we don't have our official status yet.

One thing about the tooth brushes, I wanted to first of all thank Dr. Roxana Popa for being the first to jump in with her own generous support. Then, the next time I went into Altima for just a teeth cleaning, the entire staff had a donation ready for me when I arrived. It was a heart wrenching moment. In fact there have been a lot of those. One couple saw our presentation at the Capitol Theatre and once they saw a picture of that mud hole, that was it. They personally donated the rest of the money needed to fund a new water source. They did this as an anniversary gift to each other.

I also wanted to thank Dr. Anna Tucka for her personal donation plus the toothbrushes and toothpaste. She would have given me floss too but unless I show the rural villagers how to use it, they are likely to use it to tie branches together or something. I am told that she has even more stuff for us to take. Fortunately Mike, Ted Amsden, Jennifer Hawthorn and Jennifer Mercer are flying Air Canada so guess where my next baggage request will go?

Just five days to go and a 26 hour flight (ugh!) before we can all start fulfilling the dreams of the village people. I will update you as internet access allows.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fundraising and Project Update Oct 11

As we celebrate Thanksgiving here in Canada, I cannot help but feel for the villagers of Laos. Yesterday we were honoured with the task of helping to prepare and serve a Turkey dinner with the Whitby Sunrise Rotary Club members, to the less fortunate families in the area. It was inspiring and self fulfilling to say the least.

On the other hand I kept thinking about the struggles in the remote Loatian villages. Indeed the villagers have smiles on their faces for what they do have. With so much sickness often caused by poor hygiene, an 8.1% infant mortality rate and a life span of only 54 years, I know there is so much we can do for them.

We, and others who have approached us to do fundraisers have been working hard through the summer and early fall. Together we have raised just over $25,000 in donations and commitments. With just 5 weeks to go before my return to Laos, I am getting closer to my targets but very nervous that there is not enough time left to raise the funds before we leave.

Here is where we are at the moment.

1) University Fees for 2 students for one year - Done and paid for.
2) Funding for two more school teachers for Had Chanh and Pha Yong Villages ($1550) - Target Achieved.
3) Funding to complete construction of a water tank and school access ($3210) - Target achieved
4) Funding for a new water Source ($7600) - Target Achieved
5) The provision of 202 Water Filter systems for 198 Families and Two Schools for Small Houp Han Village, Pha Yong Village and Had Chanh village ($10,100) - 198 confirmed sponsors, although I have enough word-of-mouth commitments to be able to say - Target Achieved Distribution is expected in December for at least two of the villages.
6) New School Project ($9450) - We have raised $2550 so far with an estimated $1000 more coming in and strong hopes for a matching grant of $2000 more, leaving $3900 to raise. This is a pretty tall order considering our official fundraisers are now complete for the season. I am crossing my fingers for sure.
7) Hygienic Toilets for Had Chanh school and for a bank of toilets in Had Chanh and Pha Yong Villages ($6000 est.) I have not even managed to start fundraising for this however if I can raise enough to cover the school project, I will donate whatever is needed to complete this project.

Now, let's go to some pictures of the schools;

Had Chanh Village;

Looks pretty sharp doesn't it? You can see that they take pride in their work. To complete this project we still have to fund and teach the villagers how to build hygienic toilets for the school.

Pha Yong Village

These people have come a very long way since the last update.
They have since had to complete even more road widening to get the rest of the materials up to the village.

Referencing the distribution of the water filters, we will be shipping them to Nong Khiaw, then by riverboat to Had Chanh Village. At that point, then the villagers from Pha Yong will trek over to pick up the water filters one at a time. This will require two villagers for each filter to carry. that is 85 Trips!!!

Currently I am waiting for a picture update from the last three fundraisers that were done so that I can properly thank the hosts, so Stay Tuned!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sept 14 HadChanh and Pha Yong School Update

The rains continue throughout the northern Luang Prabang region but it doesn't seem to dampen the spirits of the determined villagers. Perhaps this gives you an idea of the work ethics and their will to move forward, despite decades of war.

Pha Yong Village

It is exciting to see, even for me from a distance, the roof going on from what has been a truly exhausting challenge. It was pouring all day yesterday and they don't dare try to get another truck of supplies up to the village. I have been told that they are going to try to widen other areas of the road too, before attempting another delivery. Through this difficult build, there is renewed energy now that the roof is being mounted. Here a few images of their progress.

You can see their is still lots of work to do but I suspect that the work will move a little bit faster so they can get the kids into the school, now that school was supposed to have started.

Had Chanh Village

Khamlath felt so bad about forgetting his camera last time that he made a special trip to the village, just to take pictures. Here they are.

The school looks pretty sharp. Just some minor work left to do.

I had no reason to worry about the red - it does look kind of sharp doesn't it? Do you notice something missing? I noticed it right away. Where are the dividing walls between the rooms?
The explanation was that the Government canceled one of the teachers, (probably because the old bamboo school was only one room). Anyway, with some discussion, they understand now that they are not likely to get another teacher unless the rooms are there and the government is unable to fund it. They have since agreed to build the dividing walls for completion before I get there. How does one teach almost 100 children in one room at the same time with three different grades?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

September 2010 School Progress

Time has flown by here at home, but for the villagers in Laos, monsoon rains have been unrelenting. They were late starting but it seems never-ending. As of late however, the rains are no longer constant.

I just realized that I have so much to update you with that I think I better just dive in.

Pha Yong village had been almost cut off from the outside world. Still they managed to plod on so that they could get building materials to the school site. Take a look below at what they had to go through.

I may have mentioned in my last update that it took 3 days to take one truckload of material to the site. Part of the road was washed away, leaving only boulders so they had to fix the road to make it passable.

The video below shows the villagers attempting to widen the road to allow the truck to pass. Wow. I wish I had been there to help, although I am quite sure they are much more adept than I. This video is my first so bear with me - I hope it looks OK.

It doesn't look like a lot of fun does it?

As of only three weeks ago, they had only been able to prepare the footings for the posts. It has been encouraging to see how much they have accomplished now and they expect to have the roof on by the end of the month. While they had hoped to have more completed before the kids returned to class in the adjoining building, it will undoubtedly be distracting as they try to complete the structure. Here a couple of pictures of the most recent progress.

Three Weeks Ago

What a difference it makes when you have road access and better weather conditions.

Had Chanh Village has managed quite well throughout the rainy season, although not without their troubles too. With all of their low lying fields washed away, I suppose there was not much to do other than to help with the school. I am told that the school is now finished and that the kids have started school again. This is great news but where are the pictures???
They are coming of course if my guy could just remember his camera!

I will post them the minute they arrive. I am anxious to see them, not just because I want to see a finished school, but I have been told that everyone just loves the colour - RED!!!! What? They have got to be kidding. We picked out the colours (shown in one of my earlier posts) and I didn't see any paint colours that were RED, nor did we choose them. We picked the same colours as used by the Government. This ought to be interesting.

Fundraising Update

We are trucking merrily along, thanks to so many wonderful and generous people, primarily from Port Hope but we have had donations from Vancouver and North Carolina too, even from Lucknow, Ontario. I have never even heard of that before we received the donation and I hope to see it some day.

As those of you who have read this blog know, the first fundraiser at the Bualai, Taste of Thai restaurant, met with an amazing sell-out, two weeks after it was announced. What was really shocking was that so many kind-hearted folks couldn't attend but donated anyway.
Here are a couple of pictures.

There are many more pics of
course. Both floors were filled to
capacity, meaning 2
presentations and a very dry

The two on the left will be joining us on our next adventure to Laos, Jennifer Mercer (Jen's Jazz It Up Studio) and Jenn Hawthorn. Grace Lovekin shown on the right (owner of Mad Monkey Clothing) will be hosting the venue for our bake sale on October 2nd. I wish she and her husband were coming with us to Laos also...maybe next year.

Our second fundraiser was held at the home of some wonderful friends, Dianne and Cleve Pendock. I know how much work it was but to top it off, Dianne along with two of her friends Saskia Tomken and Helen Torney performed a live concert for us...wonderful artists. I could have listened to them all night. Then they all pass the floor over to me and prepare dinner for all of us - can you imagine the exhaustion at the end of the night? We sold out on that one too - in fact we oversold and it was rather close and personal in the performance area - lots of fun.
My presentation was a short 20 minutes and I didn't show slides this time. The result? I had a wonderful couple give us $400 and many others just doubled the cost of the ticket price! I have to wonder if they paid me NOT to show the slides.
Here are a couple of our favorite pictures.

Left: My serving skills (or lack

Right: Our hosts Dianne and
Cleve Pendock with guest
Peggy Dalla Rosa.

I cannot remember every single face - there are two or three I don't remember their names and apologize for that, but I do know the wonderful ladies in the front row - from left: Margarete Easton, Pauline Carrick and Audrey Levtov. They are so sweet. They are going to bake for our bake sale too. Did I say how wonderful they were?

Our extraordinary musicians from the left: Saskia Tomken on violin, Helen Torney on clarinet and pianist/chef/master gardener/Master of all trades I think, Dianne Pendock

We also presented to The Rotary Club of Port Hope and many folks who did not attend the fundraisers, were kind enough to purchase water filters. We have also heard that they have approved $2500 for next year and will seek matching grants that would involve the district and Rotary International - yeeaaaaahhh!

Currently Mike and I are scheduled to present to Northumberland Sunrise Rotary Club in early October and another presentation is being scheduled for us at the Whitby Sunrise Rotary Club.
And there will be many more.

Next Fundraisers

On September 24th, there will be a kids dance at the Port Hope Recreation Centre at the Fall Fair Grounds, hosted by Jennifer's Jazz It Up Dance Studio.

On October 2, 2010 Cathy Moore is hosting a bake sale at Mad Monkey on Walton Street in Port Hope with Grace Lovekin and Campbell Company with John and Sandy Campbell. We have 20 bakers lined up so you should have a really delectable selection. Could this be Port Hope's largest Bake Sale? I wonder.

On October 9th, this will be a big one. Mike and I will be doing a slide presentation along with guest performers and speakers, at the Capitol Theatre on Queen Street in Port Hope at 7pm. This is a pretty big theatre and while we have sold out the previous venues, this is a tall order. We just don't know that many people! Tickets are $5 or $20 for a family of up to 6 at the door (no advanced ticket sales). So come early for a good seat. All those who have purchased filters for a family in Laos is invited for free, as are all Capitol Theatre volunteers. You are invited to bring a paying guest of course! I know this will be entertaining and Sammy from the Bualai Taste of Thai Restaurant will be bringing hors d'oeuvres.

Other Updates

I am only 9 1/2 weeks left before returning to Luang Prabang and quite frankly, I don't know how I am going accomplish everything before I go. I have medical supplies (donated by The Port Hope Medical Centre) sitting in my studio waiting for shipment to hospitals in Laos but haven't had to the time to figure out how to get them there. I also have cases of T-shirts, and am expecting toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss in bulk (courtesy of Altima Dental Clinic in Port Hope and Dr's Anna and Bohdan Tucka) along with other things. The villagers currently share 1 toothbrush for each family and some villagers were a little embarrassed about the tattered clothes they were wearing. This is just one of many things left to do.

I suppose the most urgent for me is to make sure I have enough financial support before I go.
I now have commitments for support for almost two school teachers, have raised enough money to purchase water filter systems for the first two villages (157 including 2 test units) and need 29 more (in addition to 18 already purchased) to complete a third village.

I am proud to announce that I placed the bulk order today and got a good exchange rate to boot - that hardly ever happens. Our dollar usually goes down the day before I do the transfer and doesn't come back until the day after. I just found out however that the US Dollar has dropped against the Lao KIP. That is the trouble when you have to deal in three currencies.

I expect that with the fundraisers, I will also have enough to finish a small water tank project that includes concrete steps up to a school (up a very muddy embankment), where the last sponsor passed away before completing the project. I hope I will have enough to solve a critical water supply problem for a village that shares a mud hole with whatever happens to walk by (including water buffalo) - This is about $7000. Other things I really want to do include building at least one more school (about $8500 US including furniture), and a solar power pilot project for Pha Yong village ($5000 including the panels, inverters, cabling, a computer, printer and projector). There are also a number of kids that I personally will be sponsoring unless someone steps in to help. It is only $2.50 per year plus uniform for Primary 1-3, but it is more for the kids to travel up river by boat to go to primary school 4 and 5 and even more to go to secondary, then high school. I don't have total numbers of how many cannot afford to go, especially for Primary 4 and up so it is hard to ask for money if you don't know how much to ask for. Finally, I have to start working on Hygienic Toilet facilities for the villages - I suspect this will cost as much as the schools. So my 9 1/2 week challenge is there of course.

For those of you who have been following closely, we have have been researching several options as far as the charity goes. While there may some temporary reprieve, we have decided to go ahead and register our own Not-For-Profit organization followed by the application of charitable status. We know this is not an easy task nor is it a short process but we think it is the best for the project and the people of Laos. We will keep you up to date of our progress.

If any of you would like us to do a presentation for your company, organization, community group or school, we would be happy to do it. Feel free to call me direct at 905-342-3448 to discuss. It is not all about raising money - it is about bringing awareness.

I hope to have another update as soon as I get some pictures from Had Chanh village.