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.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Had Chanh Village Project Update

July 22 Fundraiser for Water Filters

It is wonderful to know that our first fundraiser sold out within two weeks of the announcement. For those of you who are not from the area, sales are generally last minute. Volunteers and Coordinators alike are usually in a panic during the last week before the event. Perhaps this is a new trend for the Municipality. I'd like to think it is due to this important cause. The event is in just two days and we are actually oversold and I have regrettably had to turn people away.

Had Chanh Village Update

Despite the monsoon rains, the school is approximately 65% complete. Here are a couple of pictures of the progress as of July 18.

We are pleasantly surprised at the progress here. It looks like it will be completed on time, in September. I am hoping too that it will come in on budget.


On the other hand there have been some setbacks with the other school in Pha Yong Village. Due to the heavy monsoon rains, it took one truck three days to get to the village. This isn't an ordinary trip either. The truck starts off on the road then has to drive down to the riverbank, be loaded onto a float of some sort, float across the river, then try to climb the mud banks on the other side. It is difficult across one river but there were many rivers and streams to cross. Needless to say, the mud hills created havoc.

At the moment, everything is pretty much at a standstill. I am told that many of the farmers were on the side of the roads. This is why.

These pictures were taken on the way back from Had Chanh Village to Luang Prabang. It is sad indeed. The entire rice crops have been washed away. Those farmers that have fields in the hills seem to be in good shape however so sticky rice will still be available. Still, I can't imagine what these farmers must be going through.

I am trying to get an update from Pha Yong Village however communication and transportation from there continue to be a nightmare for them. I will post another update once I am successful.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Had Chanh Village Project

Had Chanh Village Project

Population: 68 Families - approximately 350 people

Children: 89 students including 57 female, 32 male

Location: Northern Luang Prabang Province. To get there, it is about a 4 hour truck ride to Nong Khiaw, then a 1 hour boat ride up the Nam Ou River. The Village is located at the top of a riverbank of the river.

Brief History: The village is a much smaller village than Pha Yong in terms of residential land usage. It is surrounded entirely by fence. There are ladders made with tree branches at key points to climb into the village (to keep the buffalo and cows out), with the exception of the school where excrement is everywhere. The village has been in existence since the Vietnam war, although could have been there before that. The Lao Government have been in the area located just north of the village, three times in recent years to remove and/or detonate unexploded armaments. Villagers are still wary that many more are still out there and travel only the well marked foot and buffalo paths.

Current:Wages and income are slightly higher than Pha Yong Village although the exact numbers are unknown. The villagers augment their income from fishing and small game hunting.

Source of Support: farming of rice (sticky and steamed), pineapples, plus from the sale of pigs, chickens and fish. There is additional income from small game hunting as available. There are a couple of homes that are considered much wealthier than others due to the concrete block construction of the first floors. Several homes have concrete floors.

Diet: While slightly different than Pha Yong village, the greens are found in areas closer to the river, rather than in the hills. Bamboo is common as well. Fish and sticky rice are the staples for every meal.

1) New School
2) Clean water - they currently boil the water from the river, but it remains a yellow/green colour. Sickness is quite common, as with Pha Yong village.
3) Hygienic washrooms. There is at least one washroom that is half decent - not considered to be hygienic but there was a squat toilet in place and a separate open-aired basin used to fill a bucket and flush the toilet. There were no hand basins in sight.
4) Tourism - there is none currently and there would be a relatively small investment required to become a tourist stop.

Had Chanh Primary School - first priority

School Replacement Cost: $9300 USD
Our involvement with the village is to replace the school in its entirety. It was a one room bamboo school with critical structural flaws from the last construction, endangering the structure. Three classes were taught in the school room. Construction of two walls was bamboo. The other two walls were concrete block, hand-made incorrectly by the villagers. The roof was corrugated metal - some with holes. They will be reusing some of the roof material to cover the rice storage huts.

We will additionally fund 26 new tables for the students as they will reuse many of the old ones at a cost of $904.00 USD plus shipping costs.

We will additionally fund a new toilet at a cost of $366 USD

We will additionally fund fencing to go around the entire school property to keep the animals out, at a cost of $235

We will additionally fund the costs for students who cannot afford to attend school. Estimates are around 8 at $2.50 each for the entire year.

We are investigating how many children do not continue to grades 4 and 5 (located in another village) and their costs.

Clean Purified Water - Second Priority

We will be supplying water purification units to supply each family at a cost of $50 (CDN). This may include most of the shipping costs.

We will also supply additional water filter units for the school washrooms. The style is yet to be decided because of a prototype unit that will be available in September. We have been told that due to the low water levels, there is not enough supply to be run to the school. We will investigate this over the next couple of months to find a viable alternative (eg. building a water tank)

We were advised yesterday that the rainy season is two months late and that the river is at an all time low level, requiring buckets of water to be brought up from the river instead of the Government built water supply (again pumped from the river). We will investigate that as well and possible sourcing of a new water supply.

Hygenic Toilets - Third Priority
We have not fully reviewed the requirements here and will do so upon our return in December.

I believe that tourism in this village is a viable, low-cost option to increase the village wealth. We will further investigate this, once the rest of the project is completed.

We are told that the school is nearing completion. Pictures will be available within the next couple of weeks.
Please check back for updates to this project!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ban Pha Yong Project

Ban Pha Yong Project

Population: 83 Families (approximately 400 people)

Children: 96 to age 13

Location: Northern Luang Prabang Province. To get there from the city of Luang Prabang, it is about a four hour truck ride travelling north to Nong Khiaw, then about a 1 hour fast boat ride, continuing north along the Nam Ou River. From there you trek on foot through jungle and across rice fields for about 1 1/2 hours depending on how fit you are or how adaptable you are to the temperatures.

Recent History: The Khiaw tribe, originally from the hills and Mong tribe from the valley below, joined together so that their combined size would attract Government support. Individually, the tribes were too small. The Government forced them to move twice in the last 8 years and the village currently sits on a plateau of sorts surrounded by scenic but deadly hills, due to unexploded armaments left over from the Vietnam war. With Government aid, the village received a good water supply, although not clean, and a primary School for grades one, two and three. For further education, the students are forced to move to another village.

Current Conditions:
The average farmer here makes very little. I have heard of annual income as low as $16.25 per year, but will endeavor to get the actual number for this specific village. Most are forced to find additional income through the sale of poultry and pigs, handwoven items etc. The cost to go to this school is $2.50 per student of which approximately 10% of the kids cannot afford to go. Extreme poverty is obvious.

Source of Support: Income from sales of excess rice, chickens and pigs.

Diet: Generally what is found in the jungle - bamboo shoots and various greens, banana and sometimes fish, from a local pond or stream. Sticky rice is their staple (grown on the hills) and steamed rice (grown in low lying areas). They also eat the ends of a small vine plants often found growing as weeds between the rice plants in the fields. They do not eat eggs because they need the chickens. They rarely eat chickens or pigs, preferring to sell them.

Priorities according to the village chiefs:
First - Kindergarten school so the families don't have to take them and tend to them in the fields while they work,
Second - Clean water - currently they boil all drinking water but there are still many contaminants,
Third - Hygienic Washroom Facilities. Currently each home has a hole in the ground behind their home covered by a poorly constructed bamboo shelter. When the hole is full, they cover it and move the shelter.
Fourth - Healthcare. It is about a 2 1/2 hours trek and boat ride from the nearest help, or several hours to the nearest hospital. They specifically requested a doctor or nurse.
Fifth - Tourism as a means of income for the village. The chiefs and elders have spoken about it for some time but their knowledge of how to start up and resources are extremely limited.

Our involvement will be to directly fund the first three priorities as identified by the village chiefs. We will also research the possibility of putting them in touch with a Healthcare Foundation. Upon our return in December, we will take a closer look at what will be required to develop tourism in this remote village. It won't be easy. Generally speaking, backpackers usually travel light (including their pocket books). Those that have spending money to buy crafts etc., generally avoid the long jungle treks.

Pha Yong Kindergarten School - Phase 1

Cost: equivalent to $9450 USD
We have authorized the plans and funding to add an extension of two rooms onto the existing stone block school. We also believe that the Government will fund school teachers, when and if grades 4 and 5 become possible. The Director of Education states that there must be 15 students per class before they authorize funding. The village must pay the educators for the first three years before they will consider such request.

Additional Funding will be provided for the roughly 10 students that cannot afford to go to school. Estimated cost is $25/year for the 10 students. The chiefs think it possible that the few families still living in the hills will relocate to the village with the promise to educate their kids, so this amount may change.

Additional Funding will be provided for the Kindergarten teacher. We have agreed to fund for the first year and will discuss the requirements for the following year. The average cost for a school teacher is about $700/year. This is probably a bit high but needed to attract the teacher to the village who will still have to build a home which averages about $1300 USD

Additional Funding for Furniture: Current quotes are almost $4500 USD to cover the original three rooms and the two new ones, since the Government did not provide funding for furniture. They are currently using makeshift tables in two of the rooms and floor matts for the third room. The cost is considered extremely high, even taking into consideration extensive shipping costs so more quotes and pictures of the furniture have been requested.

Clean Water - Phase 2 (running concurrently with Phase 1)

School - there is a water source at the school with two squat toilets however no hand-washing basins. We will be reviewing a protoype of a new design for the basins in September. If unsatisfactory, we will fund the construction of two handwashing basins that will incorporate a Water Filter System valued at $44USD plus shipping. Shipping costs to Luang Prabang City are about $2 per unit. We are waiting for shipping estimates for the rest of the journey.

83 Homes - We will be funding 83 water filter systems ($44USD) plus shipping costs, one to each family in the village. The total cost estimate is $3652 plus shipping.

Hand-washing Stations - We have not approved funding for this portion of the project yet. The requirements will be reviewed in December/January and costed at that time.
A general guess would be about 20-25 basins and water filters required throughout the village because we will be building multi-unit washrooms to save on cost.

Prior to delivery of the units, one adult member from each family will be required to take a hygiene course and to understand the maintenance requirements of the units.

Hygienic Washrooms
The general thought is that we would fund the building of washrooms containing several toilets for up to 8 or 10 families, depending on the proximity of the homes to each other. The planning for this phase of the project has not been started yet. However the walls will be block walls with tile roof and hand washing stations. We will be reviewing sites for the sceptic beds, requirements for getting water to the toilets and hand-washing stations etc.

It is unfortunate but I am not an expert in this field and although I understand their need for a nurse or a doctor, the best I think we can do for them is liase with a Foundation or charity who's primary funding goes to healthcare. I have since been given some information of such a Foundation and will endeavor to discuss the village needs with them during my next visit.

In order to help the village sustain their livelihoods and to somewhat improve the village wealth to the point where they may no longer require future financial support, I am looking at different options. There clearly is a lot of work to do here in order to prepare the village for tourist type activities - the first one is access and this will be costly in order to attract more tourists with money. Backpackers would certainly enjoy the village but they generally don't carry much in the line of spending money. The other major concern is to find a happy medium between tourism and culture. We do not wish to contaminate the village customs and culture with tourist demands. I do not consider this as a critical fundraising project at this stage. Investigation may well lead to some sort of local Government support. I have decided not to treat this as part of the overall project but will work on this as a personal interest project.

Update as of July 28, 2010
After many days of trying, I was finally able to contact our liason in the village. Cell phone connection is extremely limited. The monsoon rains have created havoc in the village and there is no access to the outside world at this time, except on foot. The last truck load of building materials took three days and no sleep to arrive. The truck got stuck several times on the muddy riverbanks. More building materials are required but the villagers will have to wait for a considerable dry spell before attempting to bring more building supplies in. As a result, the building construction is going very slowly. It is still too early to tell if the building will be completed on time, in December.
Sickness has run rampant in the village although the people that we know appear to be on the mend.
I still am unable to get pictures of any progress. The closest village with internet access is Nong Khiaw and their internet communications are down as well.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Projects - Foreword


We chose these first two projects as a starting point because we would have better control, given that relations had already been built with the village liasons. We felt it critical to use these two projects in order to understand the processes required, determine what sort of obstacles could be expected in the future and to learn more about the culture. We didn't want to use someone else's money for this learning curve so we are using our own, at least for the schools.

Just before the last trip to Laos it was strongly recommended by several friends that I read a book called Three Cups of Tea, a true story about Greg Mortenson who had built 87 schools in Pakistan and Afganistan as of the publishing date of his book. I never really had the time to read much of it while overseas but managed to finish it last week and yes, there are quite a number of comparisons behind the reasons for building schools and more when it came to some of the challenges he faced. All I can say is that I sure hope I can avoid most of what he went through. I am rather shocked that he is still alive. Still, it did prepare me somewhat for the adventures that lie ahead. The book is an incredible read.

During our treks to other villages in Northern Luang Prabang province, most villages seem to have schools but most are primary grades 1, 2 and 3. After that many drop out because they have a much longer commute, either by trek or by boat, which is significantly more expensive, to attend grades 4 and 5. After that is secondary school, grades 6, 7 and 8, even a longer commute usually requiring the children to live in the village where the school is or in a dormitory of sorts. Again, the expense rises significantly more. Finally, we get to High School (Grades 9, 10 and 11), only available in very large villages or the main cities, which are extremely expensive, comparatively speaking. Only 15% of the young adults make it this far. After that, it drops to less than 1% for post secondary trade school or university. Somehow there must be an answer to improve these numbers. Perhaps we will discover something better.

Since the start of the first project just a couple of months ago, we have already received three requests and proposals for funding of projects that have either been started and abandoned due to lack of funds, or for full replacement of derelict one-room schools. A couple of them are intriguing but we need to be sure we know what we are doing first. I know that once our cause is more widely known, we will be getting many, many more requests where we won't be able to handle them all unless I win the lottery.

Finally, while each project is considered separate, I will be combining them for purposes of fundraising efforts only. These people are clearly living on the edge. It is now rainy season but there is very little rain and farmers are becoming desperate. Without rice there is no food and almost no income.

Had Chanh Village

Our guide and host for the next village, Had Chanh Village, arrived late and it was starting to get dark so I was beginning to wonder if we were going to be able to visit his village as planned for the next morning. There was no need to worry. Kham Lath showed up, ready for action.

(Mike and Kham Lath)

We headed back by boat along the Nam Ou River (eventually drains into the mighty Mae Kong River) about 25 minutes by slow boat again, right to his village – no trekking required with heavy backpacks! As soon as we got there we noticed a distinct difference from the village we had just come from. This village was smaller and the houses were much closer together. The entire village was surrounded by a fence and ladders made of tree branches to climb in and out of the village. This was to keep the buffalo and cows out. We had planned to stay only one night so there was a lot to do in a short time. As we entered Kham Lath’s home the walls were concrete block and it was just one big room – the living quarters and kitchen were upstairs made of board rather than bamboo.

Top Left: Kham Lath's Home
Top Right: Kham Lath's Dad
Left: Looking out of our home
Right: Candy offerings

They were among the wealthier class I suppose. Most other homes were the typical bamboo walls and built on stilts in case of flooding during the rainy season. The moment we arrived, the women started cooking and again the children of all sizes came for a visit. Crap! I had forgotten to refill our candy supplies! Fortunately Kham lath had brought some. We promised them something later though. We did refill our bottled water supplies before we left, thankfully! There was no store and the water, AFTER boiling was a yellowy-green, a bit like lemonade. No wonder there was such a high rate of infant mortality and sickness in these villages. The average life span is somewhere around 53 and I am already 54.

Below: General Pictures of the neighborhood.

There was a lot of bamboo in this first meal but generally the meals were different than those we experienced in Pha Yong village. There was also fish, a staple with every meal we ate. Still, I was eating delicately and eating more rice. As soon as we were finished, we visited the school and I am glad we did. The concrete floor of the school was disintegrating, caused by poor quality. There were concrete walls at either end of the one room school both with major cracks leading from the floor to the very top. You could see outside through the cracks. Inside there were some tables that were in relatively good shape and there were also three blackboards, one on each of three walls of the room where they taught three classes at the same time for 89 students. I wondered how they could learn anything with the distraction of the other classes going on. The rest of the structure was made from bamboo and the roof was metal with a few holes in it. It didn’t take a genius to figure they would not get another year out of this school and it was dangerous.

School Pictures

Shortly after that we met with the chiefs and other elders of the village, with similar results as the first village. They also had never been offered help from the outside world.

Above: Meeting with the chiefs

At least they were a lot closer to medical help than Pha Yong village where the trek was required before getting to the river.
We also checked the water supply – lots of pressure but not clean. Some of the houses were wired for electricity but there wasn’t any. Someone in the village had rigged up something in the river but the entire contraption was above the river level, not enough to turn the blades of the mini turbine, for sure. They would have to wait until rainy season but was told there was nobody to maintain it so I suspect it hadn’t worked for quite some time.

I went to use one of the toilets, or should I say hole-in-the-ground, but I couldn’t get the door to shut so I abandoned that idea. Fortunately one of Kham Lath’s friends saw me and whisked me over to his. It was surprisingly clean, concrete floor, a concrete basin to hold water and a ceramic squat toilet. It was a pleasant change to what we’d been used to. Still, the water had to be carried in from one of the four foot concrete water posts and I suppose there was lots of bacteria in it. There was no sink either for washing your hands so I headed over to the shower area to wash my hands. I would doubt that others would go to that trouble. Just before the Baci ceremony began we headed over to a friend of Kham Laths where they tried out the home made rice wine. OK, so they drank a little more than just a taste tester. I can’t imagine how they can drink so much and walk straight, let alone act it.

Baci began as expected – lots of chanting but definitely less formal, plus both the chief and the 2nd chief were a little more into the party scene afterwards.

Baci Ceremony

One rule we have to follow. When the chief gives you something you have to take it. After the ceremony and the offerings were done, he gave me a piece of meat that I didn’t recognize. I started chewing it and chewing it. There were chewy bones in it. I didn’t even want to think what it was. It turns out it was a starling! Yes, the entire bird. I think Mike got a whole frog. Mike also got stuck with eating sticky rice and pork fat. He had a tough time swallowing it so when he was given a shot of whiskey to wash it down, it made him gag – it was all he could do to keep from throwing up all over the platter. The chief also gave me a big piece of meat. I started eating it and thought it tasted pretty good, to my amazement. I looked down to see what it was and after the shock wore off, I asked Mike to take a look at it. It was the entire pig tongue hanging down. Everyone was watching so I just had to take a bite out of the side of the tongue and keep going until it was gone. As I was eating there was a bottle of whiskey that I had brought to Khamlath. It didn’t last very long. It was the home made rice whiskey that nearly killed me. If it hadn’t been for the chief giving it to me, I would have declined but after a couple of hours of this I couldn’t see straight anymore and it was only 3pm in the afternoon. There was lots of music and singing. They managed to convince Mike to sing. Normally a good singer, Mike was quite drunk and could only think of one song…My way. Unfortunately he could only remember one line and it sounded like it was all one note. He got lots of clapping anyway for his effort. I was to the point I had to get out but didn’t want to get up for fear of falling over everyone. But I had to get out of there, pretending to have to go to the washroom. Once I got out though, the sun was very hot and after about 15 minutes I was fine again. That is when the Baci broke up and we started playing volleyball, frisbee, badminton and a couple of other games.

Above and right: Sports, right after Baci - I managed some frisbee for about an hour but that was it.

Covered in sweat a couple of hours later it was time to take a shower. Kham lath went first and left the water on for me. There I was taking my shower as many people were still chasing balls around me. When I finished I felt so stupid. The tap didn’t work and I couldn’t figure out how to turn the water off. As my face started to get red from embarrassment, this little kid, no more than 1 meter high reaches way up, grabs a small rubber tube and shoves it up the nozzle to stop the flow. She was very respectful and didn’t laugh at me, just trying to be helpful.
That night we went from one home to another, then to four more, each with a full meal set out for us. We were literally ushered right from one meal to the next. It ended up to be 5 meals from about 6pm. Even that wasn’t so bad but we could barely walk and are butts were raw from sitting on the floor for so many hours. What was worse was that we couldn’t stretch.

The next day we got up early and met with all the kids in the village to give out little gifts and more wristbands – the kids were wonderful!

Above and Right: Stickers, balloons and friendship wrist bands were handed out (courtesy of Jennifer's Jazz-It-Up Dance Studio in Port Hope)

After that we headed out by boat to visit several villages to look at their school situation. One school we came across was being reconstructed. Now this was a real shocker. It was being sponsored by a secondary school in Richmond, BC., some fellow Canadians and Global Perspectives 12, a program by the Canadian Government. Well Done!

School sponsored by Richmond High School in Richmond, B.C.

Our Next Project!
Another village had a school that was literally falling apart made entirely of bamboo. This will be our next project. We met with the chief who was thrilled. Unicef had visited them 6 years ago and promised a new school but they had not heard from them since that time. Another Canadian though was also working on a new water supply for them. The bottom right picture is of the fish we bought, just caught a few minutes earlier.

In yet another village we learned what not to do. The village had been given equivalent to $3000 to fix an old bamboo school but the villagers felt they needed a new one so decided to tear down the old one and start building. They made their own concrete blocks. We were dismayed at the construction. There were holes in many of the blocks so with a closer look, we felt the area around one of the holes and the block started to crumble in our hands. First the walls of the block were way too thin, plus they didn’t use enough concrete. This building will be very unsafe for the kids but I don’t dare get involved. I sure wouldn’t want to be held responsible for this. We call it the sandcastle school.

Left: Sandcastle School (we call it that)

How could I leave this village without showing you these priceless images.

We spent the next night back in Muang Ngoi. Although we had planned to be there for two nights before heading back to Luang Prabang, our work had been completed so we just stayed the one night.
Our trip back to Luang Prabang wasn’t exactly uneventful. Our host Kham Lath had left a piece of luggage in his home village so we stopped off there on the way back. I have never seen anyone move so fast. As he came down the steep riverbank with bare feet, he was like a jack rabbit. After arriving in Nong Khiaw we decided to wait for the mini van, rather than take the truck - at least there would be no stops and the trip would be faster. The van left 1 1/2 hours after the truck and we arrived by mini van at the same time as the truck arrived. While unloading the luggage, Kham Laths luggage was missing - apparently left on the boat. We found out later that it had been removed, given to the boat ticket office and while they claimed it, it disappeared after that. We suspect it may have been the staff. It was sad that he lost several of his belongings including his land deed and every school certificate right back to his first grade.

Thank you Kham Lath for your dedication to your village, your hospitality, your translations and being there when we needed you.

Back at our luxury hotel I met with the hotel manager, Mr. Somnuek Bounsa who had been out of the country when we first arrived. I learned much more about the projects he was working on and he certainly wanted to get involved with us. He managed to get me an appointment with the Director of Education, and although Somnuek had done several school projects, he had never actually had the opportunity to meet with the director so this was a positive experience for him as well. The director thanked us for the work we were doing and agreed to supply us with blueprints for the standard government approved schools of various sizes for us. This was wonderful news. It certainly would save me hours of time and lots of money from trying to come up with similar designs. He also asked if we would consider schools that they recommend and I agreed although mentioned that our focus was in the remote villages.

Right: a baby monkey rescued from the middle of the road. It was quite sick at the time but getting better by the day.

Back to luxury - Yeahhhh!

Water Filter Unit
I met a couple of times after that with Somnuek who introduced me to a water filter that had recently been approved by the Lao Government. Even better, it was being manufactured right in Lao for a cost of only $44 US ($50 Canadian depending on the day plus shipping). I took a look at one and reviewed their brand new web-site. Although it is still missing information, I requested more and have decided that subject to proof of Government endorsement, I would try to provide one for each family in each village that we build a school for, as a start. I have found out that the technology is approved by the World Health Organization. As of today (July 22, 2010), I have 134 sponsors for individual units.

Right - Somnuek, our hotel manager with a water filter unit.

Once back in Canada I have had some time to reflect. For one, I will not leave these people if there is something I can do for them. Since then I have been working on sponsors, marketing, project management and costing and a host of other things to make this happen. I hope to be ready to go full blast when I return late this year.