November seems to be a time when our thoughts turn to gratitude and to Thanksgiving. I am no exception, and find myself very grateful these days.
Why do I say that?
Well, I get to live in the USA – still a pretty awesome place notwithstanding all our current struggles. And we finally seem to be getting the upper hand on COVID in spite of the many challenges we’ve encountered along the way.
But even more importantly, I’m grateful that I am able to have an impact on the lives of a whole lot of marginalized people in Cambodia, Myanmar, and Thailand – none of which could have ever happened without YOU. So it is for YOU and YOUR support that I am most grateful during this time of Thanksgiving.
So what did we accomplish during this frustrating year of COVID? The short answer is A LOT. And, it all happened only because of YOU and your trust in our ability to deploy YOUR generosity in the most effective way.
First of all, we stayed focused on our mission of providing for the education and wellbeing of girls and women. What did this look like? Here’s some highlights:
- Kept education going even in the face of lockdowns and school closures.
- Funded four-year university scholarships
- Provided micro-loans for entrepreneurial projects
- Helped our partner NGOs keep the lights on and continue to serve their constituents
- Funded social enterprises so NGOs could earn money and become more self sustaining
- Promoted WASH programs and improved hygiene
- And a lot more . . .
But that was not all. The most serious impacts of COVID showed up in the form of food insecurity when so many jobs were lost in these tourist dependent areas. Working with our trusted on-the-ground local NGOs we expanded our mission and sprang into action to push back against food security challenges as soon as they became evident.
In the beginning we continued with our emphasis on sustainability. That meant providing villagers with tools, training, seeds, fertilizer, chicks, piglets, and whatever else they needed to begin growing their own food. That beat back starvation and also gave these people some extra product they could take to market and generate a bit more cash. That really worked. Worked like a charm. More than 500 families are now a whole lot better off than ever before – thanks to YOU.
Beyond that, however, some villagers simply had no ground available for growing – and their food needs were so immediate that food deliveries were the only thing standing between them and starvation. Once again, our partner NGOs leapt into action to make sure that their people with the greatest needs were taken care of. In fact, more than 1,000 families (over 5,000 people) went to bed with full stomachs – all thanks to YOUR generosity.
So, where do we go from here?
I’m an optimistic guy – and tentatively plan to resume my travels to the region in January or February next year. While there, I will meet with every single one of our more than 25 NGO partners in Cambodia and Thailand. I’ll get up to date with each of them and carefully review their current needs. (For obvious reasons Myanmar is simply “out of bounds” for the time being.)
Even before I arrive in-country I can safely predict that pressing needs for help will outstrip our ability to fund them. This invariably leads to some very tough decisions. That’s where YOU come in. YOU can help make these decisions easier for me as you continue to support us at whatever level is comfortable for you.
And while you are at it, please consider joining our Circle of Hope and helping through regular monthly donations.
Rotary International. I should also mention Rotary in the event that some of you reading this newsletter are Rotarians. As a long-time Rotarian myself, I am grateful to be able to readily connect and work with clubs in Thailand and Cambodia.
Partnering with those hard working citizens has been especially gratifying as we worked together to equip computer labs and in many other ways enhance educational opportunities in marginalized communities. Rotary has also been a powerful partner in dealing head-on with the food security issues we’ve encountered.
Should any of you have an interest in more information about Rotary partnership opportunities please feel free to reach out to me directly.
At the SE Asia Foundation we do not simply “help” people.
We Help People Help Themselves
That is our focus
That is our commitment
That is where our actions show up
Please help us keep doing that with a tax-deductible donation. Just click the button below.