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.

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