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.

Monday, May 30, 2011

ReGrouping for the 2011/2012 Season

Since my return to Canada, I have not even had the time to take a break. I came back thinking I would take 2 or 3 weeks off but that wasn't to be. Yet for some reason I feel re-invigorated. Perhaps it is because of all of the support I received from family and friends I ran into on the street that were there for us last year. In fact I have had considerable time to reflect.

At times I feel that I don't belong here. With all the bickering you read in the newspapers over the smallest of issues, especially under the editorial sections, I sometimes wonder if they would continue to find something to complain about, after just one holiday trip to Laos. I had 21 visitors to Laos over the winter and every single one of them has said it was a life altering experience. In my case, I guess I am still living it. With the support of all of our private citizens and sponsors, $38,000 went a long way. We have helped over 2700 people in the rural villages with schools, a new water source for 45 families, water filters for every family in Pha Yong Village, Had Chanh Village, Small Huephen Village, a high school hosting 1300 students, a secondary school with 420 students and a hospital that only has water from the roof top when it rains (we hope to supply a new water source for them when I return in November), and a few other smaller projects.

Now that I have had a chance to catch my breath, I have reviewed 34 proposal requests from Laos totalling $940,000. Looking at this number over and over again, I couldn't help but just stare at it. It just seems so insurmountable. I consider myself a reasonable amateur fundraiser but 7 months to raise these funds in an economic climate that is trying recover....I just keep shaking my head.

The only way I could deal with it was to try to break it down in sections. I knew that Rotary is very supportive of anything to do with water so that helped a lot. If I can raise $50,000 at the club level, the Rotary District and Rotary International could potentially match to a total of $200,000. This would cover off the costs for the new water source projects, hygienic toilets for 2 villages, hygienic toilets for 16 schools and 175 more water filter systems. This also includes the hospital requirements which also requested a computer for admissions and some small medical instruments. That is a good sized chunk out of my target.

Next I broke down the smaller projects of bicycles for two village schools, student support requests and blackboards, although I am having a lot of trouble sourcing the good quality green ones, rather than plywood painted black (the students can't see the chalk from the back of the room!). I have also applied for sponsorship to private individuals and an organizations for all of these items except for 3 university students. Yet it is pretty hard to ask for a firm commitment if I can't even source the proper blackboards and cost.

As the third breakdown, I had given myself a target of a total of 1000 water filter systems this year. Holy crap! What was I thinking? I had to raise the price too, to $55.00 per system because that is what they ended up costing last year. I know that many of the people who kindly donated last year (202 filters sponsored last year), will do so again this year and a few of them have decided to go out on their own to try to raise more filter sales. A good friend Roland Drake, from Toronto has already raised about 20 filters. Another friend in North Carolina has vowed to raise at least 10. If I add in the 175 filters that I am including in my proposal to Rotary, the total so far is pretty significant, with the sales already made. With the wonderful help from Roland, we have finalized a brochure for the water filter systems. Please feel free to download and print off. Maybe you know someone that may wish to help a family or two?

This leaves 16 schools and I still find myself staring at the number. It is still huge. I have commitments of about $6000, a far cry from about $650,000. Indeed I have a couple of smaller sponsors up my sleeve that I will be approaching and a couple of fundraisers planned for later in the summer that might bring in another $15-20,000. I am also trying to work out some other options too. The Jai Lao Foundation in California has announced an essay competition (closes May 31) and I understand that a couple of the schools in my district may be considered. It is still just a shot in the dark but you never know. There is another shot in the dark with the possibility of speaking to a University south of the border where there may be some consideration into Adopting A Village in Laos. You never know. Still, I know I need a better plan than this to raise significant funds for these schools that are either non-existent or in shambles.

So here is my plea. If any of you can assist in the funding, or know someone or an organization that may be able to assist, I would be deeply grateful.

Meanwhile I continue to book presentations to various clubs and special interest groups. This will be ongoing throughout the summer.