Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Journey to Laos Fundraiser

This afternoon I created this one-page flyer (pictured above) to promote my upcoming fundraising campaign called My Journey to Laos. Running from October 1 to November 30, I am hoping to raise $500 to assist me in my venture to Laos. Two of these flyers have since been posted in my neighbourhood cafe, Java Jive, where many of its customers, with whom I am well-acquainted, will see them.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Upcoming Visit to Wat Lao Veluwanh

This morning I received a call from Bev Korasack of Fairchild Radio's Sieng Lao Radio program. She invited me to attend a couple of Laotian cultural events over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend at Wat Lao Veluwanh, a Buddhist temple located in Caledon, Ontario. I was absolutely thrilled by this news. Attending these events will be an amazing opportunity to learn about Lao culture first hand. It will also be a fantastic opportunity to share with Toronto's Lao community the work of Adopt a Village in Laos.

In the video below, we see an example of a Lao festival on the grounds of this temple.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chapters Indigo Toronto

Andrew Reyes, an Adopt a Village in Laos donor, poses with organization president, Steve Rutledge.

Andrew Reyes with Mike Yap, co-founder of Adopt a Village in Laos.

Khamkeuth Keovongsa (left) and Bev Korasack (middle) of Fairchild Radio's Sunday program, Sieng Lao Radio, and Kham's sister attended the Chapters Indigo event in Toronto.

Khamkeuth Keovongsa (right) and me.

From left to right: Andrew Reyes, Mike Yap, me, Khamkeuth Keovongsa, Wilfred Drake (my father), Bev Korasack, and Steve Rutledge.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sieng LaoRadio Facebook Photo Post

This morning I received a call from Bev Korasack (from Fairchild Radio's Sieng Lao Radio program) who had attended the Saturday fundraiser in Port Hope, Ontario. During over brief conversation, she informed me that she had posted a photo on their Facebook page. It shows her at the radio station wearing the Adopt a Village in Laos T-shirt which I had presented to her that Saturday night.

Prescriptions Day

This morning I visited my local walk-in clinic to obtain prescriptions for Dukoral (traveler's diarrhea and cholera), Azithromycin (traveler's diarrhea), and Doxycycline (malaria), all of which are critical for preventing these conditions while I am in Laos.

Once I obtained the necessary prescriptions, I ventured to the pharmacy just down the street from where I live and had them filled. After a 15-minute wait, they were ready and so was the bill. For all three prescriptions, it totalled $164.95.

The only two items remaining on my medications list to purchase are Gastrolyte (for preventing fluid loss due to diarrhea and vomiting) and Imodium (for diarrhea), both of which do not require a prescription. I only need to use these medications in the event that I do get diarrhea.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Adopt a Village in Laos Fundraiser: Amazing Attendance

Bev Korasack (Sieng LaoRadio) and me

The Adopt a Village in Laos fundraiser at the Capitol Theatre in downtown Port Hope, Ontario this past Saturday, September 17 was an absolutely amazing success. It was an evening filled with great presentations (from Steve Rutledge and Mike Yap, Ted Amsden and me, Roland Drake), live musical performances from a local band, a silent auction and delicious food from the local Thai restaurant, Buluai A Taste of Thai. Over 150 people, including six of my friends from Toronto and Bev Korasack from Fairchild Radio's Sieng Lao Radio program in Toronto, attended this event.

Uwe Meyer, the artistic director of the Capitol Theatre, kicked off the evening by introducing Steve and Mike. After they briefly spoke to the audience, they introduced me as the first presenter of the evening. Never having attempted anything like this before, I found myself unusually calm and centred. During the intermission, I received praise for my presentation from some of the guests.

For my 10 minutes in the spotlight, I began with a short PowerPoint presentation illustrating some general and sobering statistics about Laos. Then I shifted to the piece de resistance of my presentation, a video titled, "The Dark Days of Laos", which I had created from archival audio and movie sources. Set to the song "Nella Fantasia" ("In My Fantasy"), it focused on the bombing of Laos from 1964 to 1973 and its deadly legacy. After the video ended, the audience sat there in stunned and sombre silence.

 The video's message had definitely made an impact on them.

The mood then quickly shifted when Steve Rutledge and Mike Yap returned to the stage and did their first presentation of the evening. As always, they did not disappoint. They kept the audience engaged and entertained.

After the intermission, there were a couple of more segments, including a beautiful video about Adopt a Village in Laos by Northumberland Today photojournalist, Ted Amsden, who had ventured to Laos in December 2010.

 The evening wrapped up with a slideshow showcasing the work of Adopt a Village in Laos accompanied by the song "Nella Fantasia".

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Final Travel Clinic Visit

Yesterday I had my last appointment at the travel health clinic. For this visit I received my third and final Twinrix booster shot and a typhoid inoculation. I still need to venture to the pharmacy to buy some medications to take with me, specifically Dukoral for traveler's diarrhea and cholera, Gastrolyte for managing fluid loss due to diarrhea and vomiting, Imodium for diarrhea, and Doxycycline for malaria. Some of these medications I will need to start taking before my trip to Laos in December.

Laos Travel Guides

Yesterday an acquaintance from my neighbourhood cafe, Java Jive, dropped off three travel guides on Laos for me. I have only had a chance to examine them peripherally, but from what I have seen they are packed with all sorts of interesting and useful information. They will definitely help me pass away the time on my way to Laos in December.

From left to right, here are the guides pictured above:

The Rough Guide to Laos published by Rough Guides

Laos published by Lonely Planet

Laos Handbook published by Footprint

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fundraiser Tickets Zoom

This afternoon I received an email update from Steve Rutledge, the president of Adopt a Village in Laos. He informed me that 156 tickets for the big fundraiser this Saturday night have already been sold. This number alone is an amazing feat to have achieved.

Can he sell the other 94 tickets on or before the opening and meet his target of 250 tickets? Stay tuned!

Green Party Candidate Posts Fundraiser on His Blog

Ontario Green Party candidate, Mark Daye, posts upcoming Adopt a Village in Laos fundraiser flyer on his blog, the Daye.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Vientiane Connection

This morning I received an email notification from Facebook. It was a friend's request from someone in Laos, specifically, Vientiane (the capitol of Laos).

In his message, he explained that while surfing one day he had encountered information about Adopt a Village in Laos' water filter project and wanted to know more.

Below is the message which he had sent to me and my response on Facebook.

Bounheng wrote: 
Sabaidee Roland Drake,

I just found your article about "Adopting a village in Laos" on internet, and I was very interested in your water filter system and things you have done to help the community in Laos. If you are in the city (Vientiane), I would love to meet you and learn more about your project. For your information, I am now a teacher at the National University of Laos. My major is on water purification system.

I replied:
Thank you so much for your message.
Since July 2010 when I first became involved with Adopt a Village in Laos, I have been volunteering in whatever capacity I can to help the organization's founders, Steve Rutledge and Mike Yap. In December 2011, I will be joining them in Laos to experience first hand the work they have been doing. I arrive in Luang Prabang on the evening of December 5. If there is an opportunity to visit Vientiane, I will definitely let you know.
If you want to know specifics about the water filtration projects, which was initiated in 2010, you can explore my blog, My Journey to Laos, at http://myjourneytolaos.blogspot.com. You can also correspond with Steve Rutledge, who will be in Laos starting in mid-October, at adoptavillageinlaos@gmail.com. He is also on Facebook and Skype.
Please mention how you initially heard about this project.

Raising Awareness at Cabbagetown Festival

Left of centre is Ellen Michelson, former Green Party candidate,
who attended one of my presentations earlier this year.

Yesterday, while spending most of the day volunteering at the Green Party table at the Cabbagetown Festival, a neighbourhood street fair held at the beginning of September in Toronto, Ontario, I took the opportunity to raise awareness for Adopt a Village in Laos. Sharing the table with campaign literature for an upcoming provincial election, I set up my small Adopt a Village in Laos display and then interacted with passersby whenever I could. Overall, the day proved to be a great success in terms of exposure and responses from people.

Ever since the first Green Party member, Ellen Michelson, attended one of my presentations earlier this year, an informal relationship has been gradually establishing itself. An awareness of my volunteer work with Adopt a Village in Laos and with the organization itself have slowly been evolving and permeating through this political party, with much of that awareness largely concentrated at the local level right now. My work with and the work of Adopt a Village in Laos are of great interest to this political party because they both strongly reflect one of its most basic tenets: doing social good.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Seven Day Countdown

It's now exactly one week and counting down to the big Adopt a Village in Laos fundraiser at the Capitol Theatre in Port Hope, Ontario.

If you happen to read this post on or before Saturday, September 17 and are interested in attending this event, please get in touch with us as soon as possible to get your tickets.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Radio Sieng Lao Recorded

Radio Sieng Lao team

This morning Khamkeuth Keovongsa of Radio Sieng Lao (Fairchild Radio 1430 AM in Toronto) again broadcasted the upcoming Adopt a Village in Laos events. This time I took the opportunity to record the program. I have since edited it and made it available online for all the world to hear.

Thirty-one seconds into the recording, the announcements start. Two English segments, specifically directed to the author of this post, respectively start at 2:48 and 7:48.