Monday, June 23, 2008

More on small ways to make big differences

At a recent Friends of Danang meeting, a guest mentioned the book "Three Cups of Tea," which tells the story of how Greg Mortenson started building schools in remote regions in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I haven't read it yet, but I know I need to--especially when I started searching for penny fundraisers and found Mortenson's Pennies for Peace.

And another small thing making a big difference: at least one of the Friends of Danang members supports Kiva, a site where you can make tiny loans (microloans) to entrepreneurs in developing countries. You can learn more about the lenders here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Selling the next dream

I've been brainstorming over the past week or so for fundraisers for the next Friends of Danang project. We have yet to work out the details, but we're hoping to build an elementary school which will have a clean water component.

Can you even imagine a school without clean water? They exist all over the world...and there are many in Vietnam, especially in older, deteriorating school buildings which need to be replaced. The way I see it, if there are two things the children in Vietnam need access to, it's education and clean water. So the idea here is to provide both.

And now I'm trying to figure out how to sell that idea to others. I really want to step out of the mindset of staying in the safe, predictable, we-do-this-every-year fundraisers. I'd like to get kids involved...I want as many people as possible to be able to say, hey, I helped to do something really cool for kids in Vietnam.

Right now I'm thinking of pennies (or just coins in general) as a fundraiser, because I love the idea of how something small can lead to something big. Not just big in terms of the financial goals of this project (we're talking probably about $150k-$175k over a 20-month timeframe), but in terms of what a big difference this new school can make for each kid who goes there.

Spiral Foundation update

My Spiral Foundation order arrived the other day, and the items are nicely made, and definitely different. I really like the small bowl made of telephone wire:

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Shopping!

East Meets West Foundation is of the nonprofit organizations that Friends of Danang has worked with. Our most recent project with them was the Hoi Yen Bridge.
East Meets West has many projects ongoing in Vietnam, and many of the projects involve providing health care. East Meets West is partnering with S.P.I.R.A.L. (Spinning Potential Into Resources and Love) Foundation to generate aid from within Vietnam, in the form of handcrafted items.
I had been looking for a way in which I could buy handcrafted Vietnamese items like scarves and handbags and notecards from my home here in the States. And to find items that benefit East Meets West--that's a big plus! I know they do great work.
You can learn more about the East Meets West/S.P.I.R.A.L. partnership here.
Or, you can shop from here.

Friday, June 06, 2008

It's hot!

We're having an unusually hot stretch of weather here in Pittsburgh. It's Vietnam hot, but not quite, for a few reasons. One, it's not as humid here. (Really.) Two, in Pittsburgh we're approaching that time of the year when we have our longest hours of daylight, from approximately 5:30 a.m. until 9:15 p.m. or so. Vietnam doesn't have such long hours of daylight (nor such long hours of darkness) because they are much closer to the Equator than we are. Three, because Vietnam is so much closer to the Equator, the sun felt a lot more intense than it does here.

What does feel about the same: standing on a street corner with no shade while cars and buses pass by on the asphalt street. Ew!

Speaking of asphalt, the city has been working on repaving my street, and I need to go fetch my car, which is parked several blocks away, outside of the repaving zone. I'm a little worried about my car tires melting to the street once I get it here, so I'll probably head out and find some place to sit outside with a friend or two and drink cold beverages. And that's just like Vietnam.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

sad news

My grandmother passed away peacefully in her sleep early on Thursday morning. Things have been hectic, and I haven't been feeling well. I would love to go back to sleep, but I can't even crawl into my own bed because my mom and my stepdad took over my bedroom. But I did manage to upload a photo to my grandma's guest book this morning. The photo won't be up right away--it could take up to 24 hours--and that's because someone at will review it first. Now if only I could get into my own bathroom, this morning wouldn't be so bad.