March 10th, 2011
Beautiful people doing beautiful things. Not necessarily with a lot of funds, but surely with tremendous idealism and dreams. Those are the kinds of people Ode is all about.
Here is another such person with great dreams. These are very down to earth: toilets in Laos.
Please read the following correspondence a friend sent me. Her friend is the mother of Paddy, the founder of this remarkable project. And if you want to see some photos or read more, please visit their Facebook page.
For the last five years, my son Paddy has been dividing his time between Vancouver (a couple of months a year) and SE Asia (primarily Laos).
He started as a volunteer with the Bokeo Nature Reserve and Treehouse Eco-tourism project in northern Laos. While working on the project he lived in the village of Houay Xai, slowly accepted and trusted by the Hmong people, from the small children to the elders of the village, fluent in their language and customs.
Before he left Vancouver for his fourth year away, he decided that there was more he could accomplish on his own for the villagers (his Hmong family – as he calls them). He worked for a bit in Australia and raised enough money to build 12 toilets. See his report below:
Basic Outdoor Toilet
In many villages in Laos, isolated or right beside a major road there is still little or no infrastructure in place. Villagers usually go into the bushes near the village and find a good spot; the waste is then cleaned up by either the pigs or the dogs, creating a danger of contracting diseases from these edible animals (Tapeworm infections pose a serious public health problem in many less developed countries due to poor sanitation conditions.) Disease is most common where livestock, such as cattle and pigs, are raised in areas where human feces are not disposed of in a sanitary manner.
Costs Bricks – Made locally in Lao Concrete – Made in Thailand but purchased through local suppliers Gravel – Most likely available from rivers and streams, if not then easily purchased Toilet bowl – Made in Thailand, also purchased through local suppliers Wood – Possibly supplied by the village, if not then bought through a source that does not deal in poached timber from Nationally Protected Areas Labour – Most labour done by the villagers themselves – digging the pit, and moving sand to mix the concrete – Necessary to pay a local skilled mason to ensure that the toilets are made to proper standards Transportation – pay a ute to pick up the materials and deliver them to the village
Total Cost (in Canadian dollars) Per Toilet: $200
After consulting with the village chief and local families about the most suitable location, we will arrange a small team to help get the project underway. When each toilet is completed, photographs will be taken and posted on the Bokeo Development Fund Facebook group page. Regular updates will also be posted, keeping everyone informed as the project progresses.
Life is challenging in Laos – a beautiful tiny country – third world and all but forgotten by aid agencies and other charitable organizations we see and hear about. After the 12 toilets were built last year, Paddy had villagers lined up to plead their case for why they should get a toilet. This is why we have decided to continue the fundraising efforts. We have established a society call The Bokeo Development Fund and are in the process of getting charitable status.
Until we are granted charitable status, we are campaigning for funds at the grassroots level – family, friends and email contacts.
We are asking for you to help us with any amount you are able. A Bokeo Development Fund Society bank account has been set up, and we also take Visa and Mastercard. Just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send cheques to the following address:
Bokeo Development Fund #77 – 6588 Barnard Drive Richmond, BC V7C 5R8
Thanks for reading. Your support means a great deal to us. All it takes is a small amount of money…
…And I would add dreams, passion, persistence, and Love.
I recently received an email from Paddy’s mother. Here is what she said:
An update about my son: Paddy is now living permanently in Bangkok with his Thai partner, Mae. This allows him to be only a few hours away from Laos, able to make decisions with the Project Manager, release funds for the next round of ‘outdoor sanitation units’ to be built, and meet with village elders and leaders when the need arises.
As he takes no income from the Society, he has entered into a partnership with an eco-resort on the Thai island of Koh Kood, building and running a children’s summer camp – teaching children about nature, recycling, arts and crafts, English. This has never been done in Thailand and the first camp is set to run at the end of March. How exciting!
He has also been asked to write a monthly article for a Thai magazine on creating useful items from recycled materials.
Anyway, enough from the proud parent…
Story originated at Ode Magazine