Sunday, March 13, 2011

To Laos with Love Sequel May 14

On Saturday, May 14 starting at 8pm, another edition of "To Laos with Love" will be presented. Unlike the first presentation, this one will be held outdoors on the spacious patio of Java Jive, a small neighbourhood cafe at the corner of Church and Isabella Streets in downtown Toronto. This cafe has been instrumental in raising awareness for Laos and the hill tribes and has been a proud supporter of my Loonies for Laos project, which I initiated there in mid-December 2010. On April 25, 2011, this project secured its fourth water filter donation.

In addition to being held outdoors this time around, special guests Steve Rutledge and Mike Yap, founders of Adopt a Village in Laos, will not only be attending this presentation, but also presenting.

While the first presentation had a modest attendance (about 25 people), the people who did attend found the experience engaging and educational. In addition, three water filter donations were realized that evening. I am hoping that the event in May will be better, not only in terms of attendance but also in attracting media attention. For the most part, the biggest challenge has been raising awareness of this humanitarian cause through the mainstream media. Sadly, the media has either expressed indifference to or simply ignored my requests. Only FAB, which published a brief article at the beginning of March, and SNAP, which will publish a 1/4 page article plus a calendar listing for the May event in their May edition, expressed interest in helping spread the word.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The 519 Community Centre Event

TIME: 7:30 PM

Thirteen thousand kilometres from Toronto, this small, beautiful, poor and landlocked country in Southeast Asia bears the dubious distinction of being the most heavily bombed place in history. From 1964 to 1973, Laos, which shares its eastern border with Vietnam, was devastated during the Vietnam War. Despite being rich in history, culture, ethnic diversity and traditions, Laos continues to struggle years later, in particular with the legacy of millions of bombs (referred to as UXOs, unexploded ordnance) which remain unexploded throughout its countryside, either buried in the ground or resting on the ground.

While its major urban centres, such as Vientiane and Luang Prabang, recovered to a certain degree, the same cannot be said of the remote villages and the people who dwell in them. Collectively known as the hill tribes, these people still live in impoverished conditions. Lack of clean water, access to local schools, and good hygiene are some of the major issues which they face daily. But like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the future of these people is looking brighter.

On Friday, March 4, 2011, The 519 Community Centre will be host to a consciousness-raising event dedicated to educating the citizens of Toronto about Laos and how two people and their small humanitarian organization from Port Hope, Ontario have positively impacted on the lives of the hill tribes of Laos. The event will also touch on how my life has been forever transformed since I entered the orbit of these two people and their organization.

This event will be in a mixed format. The main portion of the evening will consist of a multimedia production created and presented by me, Roland Drake. Afterwards, the audience will have an opportunity to participate in a question-and-answer session.

The live musical segments of the evening will be performed by the Toronto group, Voces Poeticas, who expressed great interest in helping me put this event together. This group's repertoire includes music from North, South and Central America as well as Spain. One of their performances is featured below on YouTube.