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.
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.
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.
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.