2013/2014 Projects

It is hard to believe I have been here 3 weeks already.  While I had virtually no down-time at home, I actually am surprised at just how much I really have in these last few days.  Perfect – it gives me a great opportunity to report back to you of all the happenings.

First, these are the projects we hope to accomplish this season;  We have already started the first bank of toilets our of 5 we will do this year.  This first one is for the village school of Ban Na Lea – the 3-room school itself was sponsored by The Rotary Club of Toronto Twilight, in its entirety.  We will also do the final four toilet banks (out of 10) for the village of Ban Pha Yong – the first village we ever visited.  We also hope to do two water projects – one for Ban Na Lea where they only get water for 8 months per year and must trek for the rest of the year, plus Ban PhoneSavanh.  This village has water in the old section but has grown quite a bit in recent years – all the new residents have only a cesspool of sorts – it is disgusting and there is lots of sickness.

We also hope to build two school additions – the final phase of a secondary school that we built two years ago.  We want to add an office and a small library.  The other school is in the village of Hat Kham that we built last year.  The school was so popular that they had 25 new kids register this year – enough for an additional classroom.  Nobody expected this, especially the villagers.  We are also sponsoring 19 students from Primary School 1 right up to university, plus a teacher during the apprenticeship year. There are lots of small projects too like adding solar light to two hospital clinics, a fence project and I a considering a couple of other requests but they will wait until I see how much money I have left.

First, I realize that I ever offered an update on Ban Na Lea school.  It has been finished since September – here are a couple of photos.

The first three room primary school to date, in a rural village

The first three room primary school to date, in a rural village

Special Thanks to the Rotary Club of Toronto Twilight

Special Thanks to the Rotary Club of Toronto Twilight

Physical Exercises are mandatory but I am quite sure they would rather be playing Boon where they use everything except their hands.

Physical Exercises are mandatory but I am quite sure they would rather be playing Boon where they use everything except their hands.

Currently we are constructing toilets for the school – they should be finished in about three weeks, in time for our visitors to arrive from the Toronto Twilight Rotary Club.

Next, I just received word that the truck with all of our water filters is now full at 275 systems.  It will be leaving Thakek either later today or tomorrow morning – it will be a 3 day journey to arrive in Luang Prabang and another day to drop of the filters in five different villages.  This is the largest single order we have placed.

The picture is pretty dark but the truck sure looks full.  I am looking forward to the hygiene training and distribution in just 5 days.

The picture is pretty dark but the truck sure looks full. I am looking forward to the hygiene training and distribution in just 5 days.

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A New Season, New Challenges

Fundraising is no easy feat, that is for sure.  From the moment I stepped off the plane last March to the moment I stepped on a couple of weeks ago, my mind has been consumed with raising enough funds to do this year projects.  A couple of weeks before the end of the fundraising season, I thought I would never make it but then I always think that.  Low and behold, so many amazing people and organizations stepped up to give us a helping hand.  We did 31 presentations to various Rotary clubs, Lion Clubs and special interest groups.  On top of that, we did a coffee presentation, Jennifer’s Jazz-It-Up Dance Studio did a small fundraiser for us, we again hosted our annual event at the Capitol Theatre in Port Hope and did another used book sale.

Some of the highlights included our water filter campaign – 525 Water Filter Systems – these will serve at least 2600 villagers, schools and a couple of rural medical clinics.  I have to thank Barbara Seagram, a true humanitarian in every sense, for her efforts in raising well over $20,000 this year alone.  Another wonderful surprise was Cindy Gering from New Westminster in BC.  She is donating a water filter system for every real estate sale she makes, starting with 65 systems!

Our annual fundraiser was a huge success too.  Mike and I rack our brains every year to come up with something different to bring to our community and this year we presented female celebrity impersonators.  In fact it was so popular we even discovered a couple of guys hiding above the stage so they could watch the show!

The book sale was another great success, we sold over $4700 in used $1 and $2 books – most of them looked brand new but we still had something like 8,000 books left over so after next years book sale, I think we will do a second one elsewhere or the following spring.

Finally, Rotary Clubs plus an Rotary District Grant totalled over $71,000 plus so many individual donations, easily brought the total to over $75,000.  I am just speechless over this.

I really have to thank so many people for helping us achieve this.  Kathy Dennis has been a Godsend with the book sale.  There is no way in a month of Sundays I could have handled this.  Peggy and Tim are there at just about every fundraiser doing whatever they can do to make things go smoothly, as is Jo Druhan who has helped me at just about every fundraiser for over 10 years!  It doesn’t stop there either – there have been so many people, giving of their time, and often their money to assist us in raising money for the respectful villagers that wouldn’t otherwise have a hope for a better life.  Finally, our Board of Directors has been crucial in our decisions, offering advice, and helping with the processing of credit cards, tax receipts, accounting and other things.

THANK YOU!

Now for a much needed projects update!