June/July SE Asia Trip
August 17, 2014

But first I’ll report an important new development. Finally, after 13 months of waiting, the IRS has granted us Public Charity 501(c)(3) status. So, we now have a new non-profit called the SE Asia Foundation. (I’ll have a website up for it soon.) That Foundation will now be the home for all three of our active funds, namely the Bali Fund, the SE Asia Children’s Fund, and the Together We Can Change The World (TWCCTW) Fund. Contributions to all three of these funds will be tax deductible to the maximum extent allowed by current U. S. laws and regulations.

Okay, on with the trip report. This one began in Bali where I once again participated in the annual, three-day off-site strategic planning meeting for the Widhya Asih Foundation. This fine organization operates seven orphanages, caring for approximately 400 children, throughout the island of Bali.

This year was quite a different experience for me because for nearly three days all I did was observe them leading and conducting their own meeting. They were great!

Near the end of the third day they had a spot on the agenda called “Bill’s Time”. That was for me to say whatever was on my mind. So, I used that time to recall the path we’d traveled together for nearly eight years, beginning with a conversation about what really constituted a Strategic Plan. We moved ahead and became clear about Vision and Mission. Then we spent time developing meaningful Success Measures. From there we progressed to measurable Strategic Goals, and then to Annual Goals, and finally to the Action Plans and commitments – the part we call “Who, Does What, by When?”

After having spent the three days this year observing them plan, organize, and conduct their own meeting with virtually no coaching from me, my message could only be one of “My work here is done. You are professionals. You no longer need my coaching.”

Needless to say, that gave me great pleasure. I’m really proud of these people and the professionalism with which they care for their 400 kids and give them a realistic opportunity for a much better life.

The group did ask for one more training session about fund raising. So, in late January or early February next year Roi Crouch and I will conduct a two-day workshop called “Developing and Maintaining a Sustainable Funding Base”.

While in Bali we made a $1,790 grant (from a very generous sponsor) to provide a laptop computer and first year university tuition for the girl she sponsors.
Wow! How cool is that?

Another special time for me during this session with the Bali group was a surprise visit from Sulis, one of the girls Pat and I personally sponsor. We’ve watched her mature all through high school and now into university. With a passion for fashion design, we think this young woman is headed for great things.

From Bali it was on to Bangkok where I led another all-day team building workshop for 15 members of the sewing center run by the Good Shepherd Sisters. As with the previous three similar groups, we had a busy engaging day together. Here’s some pictures of this energetic group in action.

While I was in Bangkok I was able to make a $5,000 grant to the Good Shepherd Sisters in Nong Khai to fund education and related needs for 10 girls — for a full year — in their Village Sponsorship Program.

(Sure is nice to have such wonderfully supportive donors to that I can address needs like this)

The following day I traveled to the Rangsit Market area in the north section of Bangkok to lead a team building workshop For Treasure Shine and several of her teachers and staff at her Mee Easin Development Foundation (MDF) serving the needs of migrant Burmese workers there. She runs a school for about 50 children as well as providing basic health care and related counseling services for the many Burmese residents in that community. I had brought some dolls along with me so first we played with those.

Then we continued on with the meeting …

While I was there with MDF we made two grants from the TWCCTW fund. One for $1,000 to help MDF with teacher salaries and another for $1,800 to enable Women for the World in Yangon, Myanmar to make three home loans to families in their village. (I’ll tell you more about this wonderful organization in a later report.)

I then traveled north to Chiang Mai. There, I participated in another all-day meeting to continue working on the master plan for the Wildflower Home run by the Good Shepherd Sisters.

With the assistance of a highly talented local Thai “community architect”, Net, and others with expertise in sustainable agriculture, aquaculture, and fund-raising, we’re now getting a pretty good handle on what it will take to bring that facility up to a functional standard and to increase the number of women served to an economically feasible level. This is a big undertaking for them with a number of challenging questions that must be addressed if they are to develop this home into the long-term sustainable facility they envision. More about that in future reports.

Leaving Chiang Mai, I traveled to Chiang Rai so that Carol Acosta, immediate past president of the Rotary Club of Maechan, and I could visit Jit at Baan Saan Rak and assess the extent of the recently suffered earthquake damage and get a handle on the budget required to meet their immediate needs. The damage there is extensive. One building, the guest-house for volunteers, is a complete tear-down. Another, the main pavilion, needs significant repair and reinforcing. On a positive note, however, this is also a fine opportunity to make some modifications to the building to increase its functionality. Cost estimating and budgeting for that work is currently underway. Here’s a look at some of the damage.

Following Chiang Rai I flew back to Siem Reap to work with Theany at the Future for Khmer Chldren (FKC) school she runs there. Recently, the TWCCTW group funded the completion of a new Technology Center at that location and recently granted an additional $5,000 to equip that Center with up to date computers, projectors, laser printers, flat screen monitors, and related equipment to help the nearly 300 children there get an education in technical skills that will equip them to compete for good jobs in the local communities.

We were able to stretch our money a long, long way mainly due to the support of Sophal, the Assistant Director for Pannasastra University there in Siem Reap. She, along with associates from their computer training program, helped us determine exactly what to buy, where to buy it locally, and then used the university’s purchasing power to get it for us at the right price. During my visit I could see all the newly purchased equipment in boxes, but not yet installed because of a delay in receiving the necessary furniture. Last week I received a report that the furniture had arrived and that they were in the process of final installation and wiring. Here’s a couple of photos they sent me. I love it.

There is still more we need to do here, but this is a great start.

While in Siem Reap, I also traveled out to a couple of remote villages to see the new clean water wells recently sponsored by the four Taylor brothers. (Needless to say, I’m really proud of my brothers.) That was pretty special — and, the total donation for all four wells was a mere $1,200. What a great bargain. I’ll tell you more about that in another, separate report.

Another special treat for me in Siem Reap was to visit with Kenta and Mai, two of the recent graduates of our first ever iLeap SE Asia Leadership Initiative program (SALI) held in Seattle this last March. Here they are during dinner with their roommates and some local friends. Yum!

(That’s Kenta in the middle holding the red plate, and Mai on the far right.)
After Siem Reap, I traveled back to Pattaya so I could meet with Sister Regina, the newly elected Good Shepherd Sisters Provincial for the four country region of Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam. We had a long and constructive conversation about addressing the challenges at their Wildflower Home in Chiang Mai. More about that in coming reports.

All-in-all this was another long, productive trip. I’ll be returning to Thailand in early September and will publish another update later that month.

Life is good – at least for some of us it is.
Others need a bit of help, and together we can provide exactly that.