Thursday, January 27, 2011

Helping Hundreds 'Just a drop in the bucket'

In his third and final installment about the humanitarian work of Adopt a Village in Laos, Ted Amsden explores what Adopt a Village in Laos plans for the future.

Read the first and second installments in this three-part series.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Loonies for Laos

Purchased from a local dollar store, a small wooden chest has been sitting unassumingly in front of the cash register at my neighbourhood cafe, Java Jive, since I installed it for a pilot project on December 19, 2010. Only a small sign explains its reason for being there. To date and much to my delight, $62 in donations have been collected for Adopt a Village in Laos. $50 is enough to cover the cost of one water filter for a family of 6 to 8 people.

On April 19, which will be the four-month anniversary of the donation chest's installation, I will send Steve all the money collected up to that date. This will be a collective contribution from the staff and patrons of Java Jive.

Water Filters Bring Promise of Improved Health

In his second installment about the humanitarian work of Adopt a Village in Laos, Ted Amsden focuses on how water filter projects are bringing the promise of improved health to the hill tribes of Laos.

Read the first and third installments in this three-part series.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Dad Contributes to My Laos Travel Fund

While I was visiting my dad several weeks ago, I had dropped off some copies of the Adopt a Village in Laos newsletter and told him about this organization with which I had become involved. This morning I briefly visited him again at his apartment in midtown Toronto, which is not that far from where I grew up. During the visit, my dad informed me that he needed to go to his neighbourhood bank before I left. He asked me if I would mind accompanying him. I responded that I would be more than happy to tag along, but little did I suspect what would happen next.

The journey to the bank took about 15 minutes from his apartment. Once we arrived there, he didn't have to wait very long for a teller. A few minutes later, he returned and presented me with $200 in cash. This money, he explained, was to go toward the cost of my flight. Surprised, I simply thanked him very much. Then, we walked back to the subway, where we parted company and I headed back downtown.

With this new money to add to my travel fund, it now brings up the total to $885. That's forty-five percent of the way to my goal.

Proposed New School Project in Hat Kham

Last night I received another update from Steve about a proposed new school project in the Village of Hat Kham, which is located in the northern part of Luang Prabang province. He included a link to a video in which he and Lisa McCoy of Schools for Cambodia take you on a brief tour of the area where the new school is supposed to be constructed.

While I was reading the post on the Schools for Cambodia blog about this new project, I encountered another post on this blog which simply made me smile. It included a wonderful video of some of the children of Hat Kham Village engaged in a game of Hi Five!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Local Residents Aid Laos Families

This evening I received an email from Steve containing an embedded link to an article, which appeared in the travel section of the January 13, 2011 issue of  Northumberland Today. Written by Ted Amsden, one of the three people who ventured with Mike to Laos this past December, it is the first article in a three-part series, which reveals some of the tremendous humanitarian work that Adopt a Village in Laos has been doing. The first installment examines the newest school project.

Read the second and third installments of this three-part series.

Modern Perspectives of Antiquity

Shortly after 5.30 PM this past Saturday, I arrived at Akasha Art Gallery for the opening of Jonathan Groeneweg's exhibition, Modern Perspectives of Antiquity: Reflections of Laos & Cambodia. When I go to the top of the stairs and stepped into the gallery itself, which is a small, intimate and inviting place, there was already a good crowd of people, who were clustered into small groups engaged in conversations and drinking wine. Along the left wall one of his beautiful images, Luang Prabang River Gardens (Nam Khan River, Luang Prabang), a composite of 25 images and measuring 18 inches high by 96 inches long, sprawled across a large portion of its length. It was marked as a limited edition, only 1 of 5.

While I was there, I had a chance to chat with the artist himself. I explained how I had become associated with his exhibition, the humanitarian work which Steve and Mike are doing in Laos, and my own involvement with Adopt a Village in Laos.

The exhibition will be running for about a month and closes on February 10. In that time, I will be encouraging my friends and other people that I know to visit this exhibition. In addition to having the newsletters and magazine displayed at the gallery, I have taken some of the cards promoting this exhibition and displayed them with the Adopt a Village in Laos newsletters at my local cafe.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Newsletters & Magazines at Gallery

This afternoon I received an email from Sonja at Akasha Art Gallery to say that the newsletters and GO! magazine have been prominently displayed for visitors.

Akasha Art Exhibition

Yesterday morning I ventured out with my dog, Asta, to do some shopping. On the way, I dropped into Java Jive, the community cafe next door to where I live. It was there that Mushtaba, the new owner of the cafe, informed me that a woman from Akasha Art Gallery, which I later discovered is nestled above the neighbourhood hardware store just north of Wellesley on Church, had picked up the last copy of Adopt a Village in Laos newsletter. She had asked him if she could have more copies of this newsletter to display at an upcoming exhibition which had some relationship to Laos.

With my dog Asta in hand, I left the cafe and briskly walked down to the gallery. Once there, I introduced myself and briefly explained my interest in and involvement with Laos. She told me that starting this Saturday there would be an exhibition whose subject matter would revolve around Cambodia and Laos. Having the newsletters on display during this exhibition, I thought to myself and which I verbalised to her, would be an excellent way to raise awareness for Adopt a Village in Laos. Before I left, I told her that I would be back later that day with some freshly minted newsletters.

Early that afternoon I visited the gallery again. In addition to bringing the newsletters, I gave her a copy of the Fall 2010 issue of GO!, which featured a beautiful eight-page article about Adopt a Village in Laos. I explained that this was a display copy for visitors to peruse and another way to promote the organization.

After work today I will be attending the opening of this exhibition to which I had been cordially invited by the gallery owner yesterday. I am really looking forward to it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Postcard from Laos

This morning I received a beautiful postcard from Laos. It was from Mike, dated December 20.

The village depicted on the front of the card is called Iko-Brume Matinale. On the back of the card, four stamps, each worth 3000 K (that's short for kip, the name of the local currency), lined its top. In Canadian currency, each stamp is worth about 37 cents (at the time of this writing).

In his message, he briefly brought me up to speed about what's been going on there.

Dear Roland
How are you?
It has been a crazy past couple weeks and I'm in my last week in Laos.
We did so much other than the usual tour. Most of the time was to get the projects from May done and hunting for new villages that need help. That means I will be back next year.
 Not sure how long this card will take to get to your door.
 I wish you have a Happy & Prosperous New Year.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Year of Laos

Sabai di pi mai!

That's Lao for Happy New Year.

With the dawn of 2011, which I have christened the Year of Laos, I will be venturing into my own undiscovered country with big and eventful things unfolding for me this year.