Reaksmy Kids Receive a Most Generous Gift!

Trip Start Oct 14, 2009
1
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Trip End Jul 01, 2014


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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Saturday, May 11, 2013

I always meet the most wonderful, interesting, and generous folks through my travels and volunteer work with OLPC! I would like to share one very moving and generous story!

Last April, 2012, I had an email from an American who lives in Australia, Roger Wander. Roger and his wife, Vanessa had visited Vietnam in January, 2012. Their trip included a cruise on Halong Bay on one of Indochina Junk's boats. http://www.indochina-junk.com/  Indochina Junk runs environmentally sensitive "green cruises" and visits less crowded off the beaten tourist track areas of Halong Bay.

Roger told me that they had a wonderful time on their Halong Bay cruise. They enjoyed the beautiful scenery, the gourmet Vietnamese meals, and the sunset kayaking. But it was their visit to Vung Vieng (aka Vong Vieng) floating fishing village that touched them the most. The short visit to the tiny isolated and very poor village changed them. After returning home, Roger decided to try and find a way to help the children in this village, in “even a small way.” Roger found my Travelpod blog about the VVV XO Laptop Project. He wrote to OLPC and they forwarded it to me. This is what his first email said:

In early to mid-January this year, my wife Vanessa and I travelled in
 Vietnam. One of our more memorable times was spent on a junk run by
 Indochina Junk in Halong Bay, esp the day we visited the floating fishing
 village (Vung Vieng, I believe). We donated some money at the time we were
 there but the poverty is obvious and the need is great.
 I'm interested in doing some fund- and awareness raising here in my
home in
 Northcote, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria Australia. I'd like to think I
 can get friends to help donate basic school supplies and/or the funds to
 transport them from Australia to the school at Vung Vieng, or to purchase
 them in Vietnam. As a mathematics teacher for over 30 years in Australian
 and American schools, and now as an educational researcher at the
University
 of Melbourne, I have a lifelong interest in and passion for education
- and
 I would love to have the opportunity to make a difference in these
 children's educational opportunities.
 After searching the web I noticed that your name appeared as a westerner
 who's volunteered over there to make a difference. I would like to
 have the
 opportunity to write more specifically about what I might do, or to 
talk to
 you over the phone.

What a sweet, wonderful and generous idea!
 
My friend, Ms Trang from Indochina Junk’s Hanoi office took my email north to Hong Gai to Mr. Dung, the owner of INDOCHINA JUNK. What we I heard back was a surprise:
Dear Mrs. Nancy,
I met Mr. Dung and translated your email to him. He’s very glad  to hear about you and thank you so much for time, money, effort you spend to children in Halong Bay. Refer Mr. Roger desire donate to the children in Vung Vieng and Cong Dong villages, Mr Dung said the government in Quang Ninh intend move floating villages  in Halong Bay to land. It should be better when we have decision about this project, Mr. Roger will donate to children.


Wow. We are wondering where the people will be living; on a larger island in the bay, or on the Mainland?  Will they still be fishing and farming pearls for a living? Will the children have a regular schedule and finally, full time schoolteachers?

My new friend Roger turned 60 and had his party in early May, 2012. He sent a few photos and wrote:
We had about 50 or so folks stop in for 1 or more hours. The food was catered by a wonderful organization we have here in Melbourne, the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre; look at what they do at http://www.asrc.org.au/  and then go to Programs – What we do – Empowerment – Catering Social Enterprise. At one stage in the afternoon I stood up and gave a speech; near the centre of our living space I left a bowl into which people’s cards and donations would be placed; and above that was a printout of your email of 3rd May. Thus far the total is about $1500, so I’m thrilled with people’s responses.”

Roger and I both understood that things like this can take forever in Vietnam. I promised everyone involved that I would try to help with the logistics in a way that will assure that the funds get to the Vung Vieng Village children.

Communication with Indochina Junk has been sporadic and difficult. I still don't know if the VVV families are still in their beautiful village, or whether they have been displaced. I felt badly for my inability distribute the funds with adequate surety that the intended children would benefit from the Roger Wander Friends & Family Gift. But it's May again already & this project needed to be completed!

I suggested that Roger choose another beneficiary for his most generous gift. In keeping with Roger's "lifelong interest in and passion for education" and his original intention to help very poor children receive a better education, through the One Laptop Per Child projects, Roger has donated the funds to Cambodia P.R.I.D.E., a 501c3 non profit organization who has been expertly impacting poor rural children in Cambodia since 1999 by Providing Rural Innovative Digital Education. http://www.cambodiapride.org/

Elaine Negroponte, Director of Cambodia P.R.I.DE., wrote Roger:
We are truly overwhelmed by your generous donation of $1500.00 to Cambodia~P.R.I.D.E. Org. 
Your gift will go directly into salaries for our teachers and school supplies. We want you to know that we have no car, office or other expenses than the actual running of our schools. Are you an American citizen? If you are you can take a tax deduction for your gift as we are a US non profit 501(c)3. We have worked in the same villages for over 14 years when we first built our first government schools. Just now we are seeing our primary school students finish high school and go off to college and this keeps us even more motivated to help.


First let me say that the teachers (all Khmers) and the organization would very much like to
extend our invitation to you or any of your group of donors to visit us.  We have always believed that it is very important for a donor to see where their money is going.
We would be delighted if you can visit the schools at any time to see for yourself the work we are doing in one of the poorest provinces in Cambodia.
With sincere thanks and our kind regards, Elaine


Roger replied:
The money represents donations from nearly 30 individuals and couples many of whom are also in the education field. He says that he is "sure the donors will be very pleased to read about how the salaries of your teachers and school supplies will be supported by these funds. YAY!!! Hopefully my wife and I will get to Cambodia soon – it would be a thrill to meet you and your teachers and learn more about the work you’re all doing there. 

Happy 61st Birthday, Roger from me and from the Global OLPC volunteer community too! Like all of your friends who donated, you and Vanessa must be pretty special folks. Roger, you have indeed seized  "the opportunity to make a difference in children's educational opportunities.
" I speak with 100% confidence when I say that with your gift to Cambodia P.R.I.D.E. you can be assured that you have done so.:)

Thank you for your generous gift to the Cambodia Pride OLPC Project. I do hope we’ll meet in person some day!






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