Community Development Projects For Sustainable Travel
I take the the concept of sustainable travel very seriously. As a result, I decided to take it to another level and provide funding for large scale community development jobs in Cambodia, Laos and Honduras. Therefore, over a 2 year period I disbursed 30% of my net worth to enable these community development projects.
Primarily, the money was used to fund the construction of new schools, scholarship programs and community health care. Overall, thousands of children and their communities will benefit from these projects for many years to come.
I have provided a brief overview below of my 2 SE Asia school projects and the stove project implementation in Honduras. There were 2 additional school projects both in Laos and Cambodia. As a result, I decided to do a more extensive write up including photos of the 4 completed school projects and the opening ceremonies. These posts are very interesting because they include before and after photos of the school projects. I will include links to the posts at the bottom of the page.
Community Health Care & Scholarship Programs
In regards to the community health care projects and scholarship programs, they were significant and were all successfully completed. However, they were more spread out and other than statistics there is not much to include in a blog post. As a result, I decided to concentrate more on the school opening ceremonies. There is plenty of material to review including lots of photos.
Community Development In Cambodia
Prey Chas, Cambodia is the location of one of the new school projects that I funded. Prey Chas is a very small rural fishing village that is located in Battambang Province on Tonle Sap. Tonle Sap is a large freshwater lake located in west central Cambodia and access to the community is only possible by boat.
At the school opening ceremony I was presented with the “Economic Medal of Honor” by the governor of Battambang Province.
In this photo I am receiving my award from the provincial governor at the school opening ceremony.
Prey Chas is a floating village and this means that all the buildings must stay above the water line. Thus, the school is elevated which you can see in the photo below.
The class president is addressing those attending the opening ceremony with the new school in the background.
Community Development In Laos
I was also very excited to fund new community development projects in Laos. The project featured below was located in a rural village called Nong Tae in Champasak Province. I co-funded this project 50/50 with a corporation from Thailand. At the Nong Tae school opening ceremony I was presented with the opportunity to address those in attendance. Fortunately, I was able to have this recorded on video and I am able to post it here.
In the video you are able to see the dilapidated building that served as their former school. It is located in the background behind where the school teachers are sitting.
Due to the large size of the new school buildings it was not possible to capture it in a single photograph. However, the photo below features a portico in front of some classrooms and the woman in the foreground represented the Thai corporation that co-funded the this school project with me.
Lao culture is more spiritual than that which exists in present day Cambodia. In Laos, we were presented with what is called a “baci” ceremony also known as a “sou khuan”. This type of ceremony has been practiced by the Lao for centuries and it is a means of enhancing the spirit.
A baci spiritual ceremony was presented to us by the community.
Community Development In Honduras
Furthermore, community development principles can be implemented in different forms. Therefore, the money I allocated here would be used to install cooking stoves. In Honduras, most rural villagers are forced to cook over open fires which is hazardous for their health and for the environment. The cost to install a more efficient wood burning stove in each home is only about $30 USD.
After installation the amount of wood required to operate the stove is reduced by 70%. As a result, this will reduce carbon emissions and also relieve the strain on the forest because less trees are needed for fuel. Furthermore, the efficiency of the stove is also much higher which produces a multitude of additional benefits that fit the community development definition.
Most essentially, the stove includes an efficient chimney which funnels the smoke out of the cooking area. As a result, the health benefits are immense and this will significantly reduce the respiratory problems the villagers have faced for their entire lives.
Why Did I do This?
In one week even the most disadvantaged US citizen will be presented with more economic opportunity than citizens of developing economies will have in their entire lives. As a result, I do not consider what I gave away to be charity. I have simply created opportunity where none previously existed. On the other hand, “charity” is what I give to the US government.
- Over the years I have paid a lot of money in taxes to the US government. However, second thoughts emerge when the US government (at the behest of democratically elected politicians) allows profligate consumers to put their personal debts on the government books. Starting in 2013 I took began to limit my tax liability as much as possible.
- After reading about the Vietnam war and traveling extensively through Indochina I began to sympathize with the struggle for independence that occurred there.
- I feel compelled to challenge myself and not get too comfortable in life. The best way to accomplish this is to give away something that belongs to you which has substance.
- Being very aware beforehand of the financial risks involved, I still want to differentiate myself from what I find most deplorable in life.
“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”. – Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Links To Completed School Projects
Honduras photos provided courtesy of Proyecto Mirador.