Regrouping for the 2011/2012 Seaon

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

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.

One thought on “Regrouping for the 2011/2012 Seaon

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