Past Project List
Nusa Lembongan, Bali Indonesia April 2014
Lembongan is a tiny island 30 minutes by speed boat over the Balinese Sea, or 1.5 hours by outrigger canoe which is how I first landed. Only 5000 super hospitable Balinese Hindu, a yoga shack, plenty of coconuts, hibiscus flowers, manta rays and views of a massive volcano, which at sunset is glorious. The locals depend on tourism and seaweed, a salty chest-deep farm...very irritating to the skin. Seaweed is sold to other Asian markets for carageenan, a thickener in creamy foods. There were also plenty of ill dogs and cats, so I connected with a Bali-based rescue group to promote spay/neuter. I also fostered Bruno the retriever profoundly improving his health and coat, and taught the hotel staff animal nutrition and basic care.
Teaching English and Yoga at the elementary school, the Balinese children are famously silly, they LOVE games and really challenged me as a teacher in the classroom! Although tourism is sustainable in Lembongan, the children don't have much other opportunity if they don't learn a skill or English.
I brought them English schoolbooks and trilanguage dictionaries from a fantastic Balinese book project. based in Ubud.
Luang Prabang, Laos March 2014
Luang Prabang is another World Heritage Site, with French colonial architecture mixed with northern Lao bamboo styles. Incredibly picturesque with streets lined with Buddhist Temples and streams of saffron-robed monks, the town is surrounded by two rivers which sadly are being dammed by Chinese hydroelectric companies. This means that the many Laos families depend on agriculture on their riverbanks to sustain them, as well as a few livestock will be displaced. Livestock are often sold to pay for higher education for the children. I taught English for one week at Big Brother Mouse: English language classes to college students and monks. I found the Laos people throughout the country to be very welcoming, conversational, smiling and graceful. What really fascinated me was their resilience and forgiveness despite the 9 years US Secret War and ongoing live mine accidents, and their strong self-will and desire to improve their lives.
Banteay Chhmar, Cambodia February 2014
Sitting amongst a World Heritage UNESCO Angkorkian temple site, Banteay Chhmar is off the beaten track in NW Cambodia near the Thai border. In the dry season, the smoke-filled air is choking, as forests are horridly slash-burned to make room for Chinese rubber plantations(goodbye animal habitat). The main source of income is cassava cultivation, very very labor-intensive work for which they earn pennies. Cassava (tapioca) is used for ethanol (soft drinks) and as a food thickening agent. Families must pay for school, and teachers are not paid much. The impressively devoted "visitor center" provides a library and extra classes/education for kids and depends on folks like Amy's Villages to help. For a few days I taught English, oral hygiene and we played games to promote teamwork and creativity. I donated 50 toothbrushes/paste and English schoolbooks. Cambodians are incredibly talented, cheerful & gracious Buddhist people. Check out this very fun video Cambodian Kids Gangnam Style
Namuamua, Fiji November 2013
This tropical village is reached only by a powered canoe two hours up into the Namosi Highlands of Fiji's main island, Viti Levu. Surrounded by massive bamboo forests and very steep cliffs, there is no electricity, but does have a hospital, school and the all-important rugby field! The locals farm their vegetables (in particular taro and cassava, staple foods in Pacific islands) up the muddy banks deep in the rainforest. Most children leave the village for high school, and return. I taught Yoga Classes to 6 different classrooms, and have never heard SO much giggling in my entire life! The children really enjoyed the stillness and quiet that is the hallmark of yoga, and certainly excelled physically. I also supplied the very large host family with toothbrushes, reading glasses, word puzzle books, and was invited to be an inspirational speaker at Sunday church. The world's friendliest, happiest people! And kids that you can't stop picking up they are so adorable!