Tuesday, April 26, 2011

To Laos with Love 2

On the evening of Saturday, May 14, I will be doing my second run of "To Laos with Love", which had its first run at The 519 Community Centre in downtown Toronto on March 4. Unlike the first event, this one will be taking place on the patio of my neighbourhood cafe, Java Jive, which is literally steps away from where I live. In addition, there will be two other people who have graciously volunteered to assist me that night - Steve Rutledge and Mike Yap, the founders of Adopt a Village in Laos. Their presence will definitely give the whole event more impact and greater personal depth.

Loonies for Laos Update: Fourth Water Filter Secured

On April 25, 2011, my Loonies for Laos project secured its fourth water filter!

Hip! Hip! Hooray!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

In 400 Words

Earlier this month I submitted material for an article about Laos to SNAP, a community publication which covered my "To Laos with Love" event at the beginning of  March. A few days ago, I received an email from SNAP indicating that the material had to be pared down significantly. Immediately, I set to work trying to condense what I had to say to meet their requirements of 400 words. I realized that by doing so I could only hope to give potential readers a glimpse of what Adopt a Village in Laos is all about. Finally, after several revisions, I managed to create something which did meet their requirements and with which I was satisfied. I made certain to embed it with relevant web links, providing potential readers with access to additional information to broaden their understanding. The final revision turned out to be just over 400 words in length.

After having had virtually no success in breaking through the mainstream media in Toronto, I was very happy that SNAP was interested in publishing this story. I am hoping that this article will be a major stepping stone to increasing awareness of Adopt a Village in Laos and the wonderful work which this humanitarian organization is doing with the hill tribes of rural Laos, taking it well beyond the confines of Port Hope and Cobourg.

The article appears in their May issue.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Steve's Email

This afternoon I received an email from Steve Rutledge, who has just returned from Laos, which briefly encapsulates all the wonderful achievements which Adopt a Village in Laos has done this past year. Included in that list is mention of some local work done here in Toronto.

I am already looking forward to going back - I can safely say that we have helped over 2000 people now with schools, water, water filters, toilets or combination of those.

These are the accomplishments, but not in any particular order:
  1. Small Ban Huephen (about 1 hr 15 minutes north of Luang Prabang) - I am just about finished running a new water source from 4-5 km away. This included a dam, a water tank, several km's of pipe and 5 water taps. The water has been directed to the taps, but still has to be redirected to the water tank once the concrete is cured (about another week). I also provided hygiene training and a water filter for every family in the village.
  2. I had visited a wooden high school (23 rooms with 1300 students) several times and noted that there was structural failure pending!!! I went about 3 weeks ago and noticed the wooden support beams (termite damage) had shifted so I purchased new hand made lumber (due to size of the beams) and cemented a floor for two additional classrooms. The wood beams had been delivered and installation of the beams is expected over the next week or so.
  3. Hygienic toilets in Pha Yong Village (2 1/2 hours by mini van, then 1 hour by boat, then 1.5 hours trek, north of LPB) - a sceptic tank is being installed with three toilets (the first of 12 banks to be built for the village) and a large sceptic field. I also put an addition on the school and provided the village of 84 families with 84 filters plus some for the school and toilets, along with hygiene training.
  4. We provided funding for an additional school teacher for Pha Yong Village and received commitments that a second teacher would be supplied by the Department of Education to Had Chanh Village for next year.
  5. We have also arranged for a hygienic toilets to be installed in Had Chanh Village school (about 1 hr boat ride north of Nong Khiaw). This project will start in another month or so. I also built a school there.
  6. We provided funding for a fence around the Education Compound- almost complete.
  7. I provided funding for a fence around the grounds of Pha Yong Village school - completed.
  8. I and a number of friends provided blankets and mosquito nets for a new village of 300 families about 1 1/2 hours south of LPB along the Mekong River.
  9. Provided water filters to another secondary school and the dormitories, plus two filters for a hospital without water (although I am raising money to put a new well for the hospital).
  10. I have about 30 requests for funding next year.
  11. I have made a lot of inroads with various levels of Government who are fully supportive of what I am trying to do. I have also lined up contractors and engineers for whatever gets approved for next year (based on the amount of money I can raise this summer).
  12.  I have had a lot of press coverage from our local newspapers, plus associated press plus some magazines in Toronto (free newspaper). The next release is in the next edition of SNAP newspaper in Toronto, although I am told it is about 1/4 page. There have been a couple of events there already. I have been getting donations through a coffee shop around Church Street and Isabella. I have also been asked to work with a second local newspaper (they don't like the idea that I gave the other one the full scoop) and have been asked to do an interview on local TV as well.
  13. I met a lot of wonderful foreigners who all want to donate or help us in some way. Possibly donors for three more schools and I am lining up at least 20 different presentations to community clubs between Toronto and Belleville. I have also been asked to consider presentations in Calgary and Vancouver, but I said I need at least 6 to make it worth my while (because I have to pay for the trips).
  14. We still have to do a small project for Ladthahae village - the plumbing to the latrines. This is only a two day job, but it should be done over the next couple of weeks when my engineer is free.
I guess that is about it. But I just wanted you to know that my entire life has changed and I already can't wait to go back. We have already helped 2000 to 2 500 people live happier, healthier, longer lives.

Images of Laos

This afternoon I received a lengthy email from Steve Rutledge, who has just returned from Laos. The email contained all sorts of wonderful news including a link to Ted Amsden's web site, which visually documents his experiences while he was in Laos last December.

Laos Article Date Revised

Hot off the press!

This afternoon I received an email from Janet Raponi, the corporate rep for SNAP in Toronto. In this email, she asked me if I wanted to change the publication date for the upcoming Laos article from June to May. Excitedly and without hesitation, I fired back a reply and definitely said yes to that.


Monday, April 4, 2011

To Laos with Love

In the April issue of SNAP, a local newspaper whose mission is to capture images of community events around Toronto, there is a short article which focuses on my media-rich event, To Laos with Love, which took place at the community centre just down the street from where I live. For the presentation portion, I spent hours and hours gleaning the World Wide Web for images and video as I did my research on Laos, and then hours and hours after that assembling this content into a visually powerful and captivating story. There were two very significant influences who inspired me to create this presentation and share it with the world: Steve Rutledge and Mike Yap. This presentation was not only to honour them, but their tremendous work as well.

The SNAP photographer who took these images wrote:

On Friday, March 4 The 519 Community Centre hosted a consciousness-raising fundraiser presentation and concert dedicated to educating the citizens of Toronto about Laos and the hill tribes.

The event had a strong focus on how two people and their small humanitarian organization, Adopt a Village in Laos, from Port Hope, Ontario have positively impacted (and are continuing to impact) on the lives of the hill tribes of rural Laos. The presentation covered important issues of health, poverty and social struggles.

The event consisted of the presentation part done by Roland Drake and the concert part performed by Julia Campisi and Mery Perez of "Voces Poeticas".

Event coordinator and key presenter Roland Drake with motivational magazine.

Artistic performers and the key speaker for the event: Jose Gonzalez, Julia Campisi, Mery Perez and Roland Drake.

Even though this event was lightly attended (with about 25 people in all), the people who did attend found the presentation engaging and educational. Several of the attendees later emailed me with their impressions, which you can read in their entirety on my presentation blog. Days after the presentation, I was absolutely thrilled when two of the attendees each made a donation for water filters.

The event at The 519 was just part of a process to illuminate the world at large to the wonderful humanitarian work of Adopt a Village in Laos. But overall, it has been a daunting struggle to get the word out in the mainstream media. One of the few glimmers of hope has been SNAP. In addition to covering my March event, for which I am very grateful, this publication will be doing a 1/4-page story in their June issue featuring this small organization from Port Hope.