Magnus Charitable Trust

Indochina Aid Tour (Cambodia, Laos & Vietnam)


Indochina – Cambodia / Vietnam / Laos Aid Project Information Tour December 2009

INDOCHINA-24/11/2009-26/12/2009
FORWARD – BRIEF REGIONAL INFORMATION SUMMARY

Thailand was the launch pad for the MCT Indochina Tour 2009. The Kingdom of Thailand proved to be a wonderfully welcoming and calm home base for the MCT Chairwoman’s lightening tour of Indochina.

Country: THAILAND Peoples Democratic Republic.
Capital: Bangkok.
Travel Warnings/Alerts: Non-specific security advisories / None.
Risk: Low.
Government: Constitutional Monarchy.

Country: LAOS Peoples Democratic Republic.
Capital: Vientiane.
Travel Warnings/Alerts: Non-specific security advisories / None.
Risk: Low.
Government: Single Party Communist slowly moving towards single party socialist.

Country: Vietnam.
Capital: Hanoi.
Travel Warnings/Alerts: Non-specific security advisories / None.
Risk: Low.
Government: Single Party Socialist.

Country: Cambodia.
Capital: Phnom Penh.
Travel Warnings/Alerts: Non-specific security advisories / None.
Risk: Low.
Government: Multi party democracy under constitutional monarchy.

INTRODUCTION

Maria Magnus, Chairwoman of Magnus Charitable Trust (MCT) arrived into the base country Thailand on 28/11/09 to prepare for the pre-organized Indochina tour that was designed to give MCT a general overview of the Indochina tri-nation region – Loas, Vietnam & Cambodia.

MCT summarily evaluated the need for small scale aid on a micro-tour taking in some of the culture, heritage, surface-political history in addition to the recent socio-economic history & combining these areas of interest with the present people’s requirements / needs. The criteria reviewed & considered from a small-scale humanitarian perspective with a view to helping individual, not-for profit organizations on a stand-alone basis, on a one off or a mid to longer term program depending on each set of circumstances. This as well as providing MCT with a current socio-economic, on the ground, first hand overview of the regions visited.

Readers should note that this was a rapid tour focusing on gathering relevant information wherever possible to be assimilated, considered & later assist in identifying the most appropriate aid, charitable, humanitarian projects that MCT could become involved with on a one-off basis, on-going basis or an ad-hoc basis according to recipient’s needs & MCT’s availability of funds, personnel & time.

NOTE: In Bangkok Chairwoman Maria Magnus took all available time to visit local Buddhist Temples, associated Monk’s residents & centers for Buddhist prayer & helping of local Thai peoples emanating from the karma, spirit, prayer & practical assistance from these monastic institutions in & around various areas of Bangkok. This work was photographed & logged on her personal diary.

COUNTRY 1 – LAOS (Indochina) 30th November 2009 to 6th December 2009.

Arrived into the old judicial capital Luang Prabang as initial port of call, MCT then travelled on a standard city tour to appreciate the city as it is today. MCT visited key historical attractions such as the Royal Palace, National Museum & some of the city’s Buddhist temples / pagodas & popping into any relevant cultural & municipal centers administrative offices where possible.

Time was taken to tour the streets so as to meet with the local people be they traders, low level or unskilled workers, in their normal course of their daily activities. This exercise was carried out in cities, suburbs, urban sprawl & in rural, agricultural & village areas as well as some slum districts in each region MCT visited. MCT chairwoman took the time to discover hither-to unidentified local charities, goodwill centers, not for profit organizations alongside previously organized meetings with larger, more established humanitarian projects.

This system of somewhat ad-hoc un-researched touring & information gathering remained the established formula throughout the tri-nation visit when assessing areas & their specific needs. In the case of Cambodia a long road trip through Pak-Ou onto Nam Chat & then Phonesavanh onto Xieng Khouang all into the Northern Province where unexploded ordnance is still very much a daily issue for locals. Finally the Laos tour headed south to the city of Vientiane, Vientiane the modern Laos capital.

Main meetings with four charities / not for profit organizations & a few NGO set ups as well as one Japanese Government Aid sponsored project too. The key projects visited over the six days in Laos were as follows:

  1. MAG (Landmine Advisory Group) MAG is 501(c)(3) registered. EIN/tax # 52-2302253.Contacts: Mr. Soth Phommalinh (Northern Province Manager) maglaoppmxk@laopdr.com www.maginternational.org (or info@magamerica.org Tel 202 2931904).
    Mr. David Hayter Country Manager MAG Lao, Ban Sithanneua, PO Box 4660, Vientiane, Lao PDR T:   +856 (0) 21 251 849 ext. 102 M: +856 (0) 205705991 F:   +856 (0) 21 217 505
    Ms. Lauren Cobham (pc-pnp@mag.org.kh) MAG CAMBODIA #61, St 294 Phnom Penh CAMBODIA T:  +855 (0) 23 215 115 (ext 24) M: +855 (0) 979 225 472www.maginternational.org
    MAG – An active & successful de-mining organization trying to rid Laos of much of her UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) from the Vietnam war & other conflicts with the West & Vietnam from the 1950s to the 1990s. MAG also operating in Cambodia on a large scale as well as parts of Vietnam. Initial & longest meeting with Laos Landmine Advisory Group (LMAG).
  2. UXO-LAOContacts: http://www.uxolao.org/ UXO LAO P.O. Box 345 Vientiane , LAO PDR Tel: (856-21) 414896 or 415767 Fax: (856-21) 415766 uxolao@uxolao.gov.la Mr. Bounpone SAYASENH National Program Director ( NPD )Tel: (856) 21 414896, 415767 Fax: (856) 21 415766 E-mail: bounpone@uxolao.gov.la
    A local Laos government initiative in conjunction with Japan & her JICA arm operate a national de-mining project that has a large government involvement & one that is run for the nation by the nation. A complex organization providing a good service even if rather full of red tape & large national / governmental hurdles.
  3. Big Brother Mouse a children’s country wide book distribution & reading program.Contacts: www.bigbrothermouse.com  Telephone (country code is 856): Luang Prabang: 071 254 937 Vientiane: 021 264 513 Our mailing address is: Big Brother Mouse P.O. Box 814 Luang Prabang City Luang Prabang Province Lao PDR Our street address is: Wat Nong Phayaluangmeungchan Rd Luang Prabang Lao PDR.
    MCT partook to some degree (by the purchase & distribution of some 500 books) in the Big Brother Mouse reading project. This is a not for profit organization that assists in the provision of much needed reading material in the country. As few as 1 in 10 children & teenagers have actually owned their own book & as few as 1 in 5 read their own book before having to return it to a library or school or other NGO program. Big Brother Mouse also enables donors to establish mini-libraries or larger scale libraries depending on the size of their donation.
  4. COPE National Rehabilitation Center & Project.Contacts: cope@laopdr.com www.copelaos.org +856 21 218427 & Ms. Tracie Williams tracied.williams@gmail.com Jim Harris (3rd party assistance USA) www.wehelpcharities.com   COPE Contact National Rehabilitation Centre, Khouvieng, Road P.O.Box6652, Vientiane, Lao PDR
    COPE – A not for profit organization remobilizing the nation of people adversely affected by land mine explosions & loss of limbs, hearing, eye sight & any other injuries arising from the left over ordnance. COPE also does remarkable work with disabled people of Laos in general & empowers the victims to fend for themselves & assimilate back into normal life as far as they can. An exceedingly worthwhile not-for -profit organization for MCT to review further & consider.

COUNTRY 2 – Vietnam (Indochina) 7th December 2009 to 13th December 2009.

From Laos a short flight into Vietnam’s northern city of Hanoi, capital of old northern communist Vietnam & former stronghold of the Vietcong. Turning back to education Maria identified KOTO as her initial worthy visit. Not for profit organizations reviewed in Vietnam were 7 in total.

Vietnam was travelled from north to south by car, boat, barge & plane. Travelling extensively & rapidly ensured MCT covered the two major cities in Vietnam, those being Hanoi in the north & Saigon in the south, as well as the mid-country cities of Hoi-An, Hue & Danang, before finally heading deep into the Mekong Delta & across to Chau-Doc on the border of Cambodia & finally on to Phonm Penh the capital of Cambodia.

  1. KOTO (Know One, Teach One)Contacts: Ms. Diane Cox Program Director in Hanoi. Dian@koto.com.au & domain is www.koto.com.au
    Tel +84-4 3718 4573 & +84-43747 0337. kotointernational@koto.com.au sponsorship@koto.com.au customerservice@koto.com.auJimmy Pham’s brainchild; Know One Teach One (KOTO) is rapidly establishing itself as the main theory & practical training for people entering the hospitality, catering & service industry. Many hotels, restaurants & catering establishments in the tourist & leisure sector in Vietnam are now actively recruiting directly from KOTO which takes its’ candidates from deprived backgrounds, the homeless, disadvantaged young people & trains them in vocational catering & culinary skills while giving specific & all-encompassing on the job training to all whom pass through KOTO’s doors. KOTO operates a restaurant open to the public daily & re-invests any profits back into ongoing education of her students.
  2. Thanh Hoi Phat Giao Ha Noi Buddhist Temple.Contacts: Sister Ni suf Thich Dam Lan www.chuabode.com.vn Tel 04 38273529 / 098 238 1956Sister Ni suf of the Buddha Temple for orphaned street children, ex-prostitutes & young women in distress or neglected who are subsequently prepared to mother abandoned babies. Sister runs an amazing small scale temple of hope for some 80 children & 20 poverty stricken adults all from her own fund raising, hard work & enterprise. Anything to keep the roof over the heads of the lost souls & herself while keeping them off the street & trying to find work for those seeking a job. Some street people also visit just for meals & / or comfort & company. The Pagoda also encourages young couples & would-be couples to visit & spend time with the orphaned babies & children giving them much needed affection & comfort. The sister also has a local martial arts expert come in 3 times per week to instruct the children wanting to participate in the classes.
  3. Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation.Contacts: Founder & Director Michael Brosowski bluedragon@bdcf.org www.streetkidsinvietnam.com 66a Nghia Duang, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. Tel 84-4 37170544 ext 30 / 09 44550011Blue Dragon’s Children’s Foundation (BDCF) was the second large scale charity that MCT visited in some depth. This very worthwhile children’s care center is involved in removing children from the streets, helping rescue others from sex trafficking as well as work trafficking before returning the lucky ones to family members or simply helping them remain off the streets & educating them as well as counseling & assisting them in practical ways to ensure their safety & future development.BDCF is a very neatly, efficiently & effectively run center for helping the homeless, parentless, poverty stricken & helpless children & young teens. They also run a nursery, an education center with a range of programs for a range of ages in addition to a counseling program on a self-styled drop in basis. Any street children are welcome to drop in at anytime to register & seek assistance. The center also runs a feeding program that supplies anything from 50-400 meals per day depending on who turns up.
  4. Streets Restaurant CaféContacts: www.streetsinternational.org 17 Le Loi Street, Hoi An, Vietnam. Tel 84-0510 3911949.This was the third catering establishment that is involved with getting young, disenfranchised teens off the etreets, training them for a vocation in the food & beverage industry. In its infancy compared to KOTO but MCT toured the site none the less.As explained a much smaller set up & a project that is not really suitable for MCT. At this early stage in the not-for-profit restaurant’s development phase it is more suited to hands on operational assistance. Streets International has some way to go before MCT could become involved with any aspect of their programming.
  5. Children’s Hope In Action (CHIA)Contacts: Ms. Robyn Morley (Founding Director) 516 Cua Dai Street Hoi An Vietnam. M +84 914 175103 W +84 610 3921487 F +84 610 3924 226. E mail & Web Domain program@childrenshopeinaction.org www.childrenshopeinaction.orgCHIA is a well established organization that concentrates on assisting disabled, handicapped & problem children with mental & physical disabilities in the area. A small scale project run by a single Australian woman & her local team of professional & good-will helpers & overseas volunteers that operate on self-funded programs. The odd volunteer dispatched by the Australian government from overseas like in the BDCF scenario also assist in the daily operation of the project. Again this not-for-profit organization also receives some help from the Australian & some Asian governments to a small extent. Not really in line with what MCT seeks to become involved with.
  6. Healing Wounded Hearts Charity Gift Shop/s Hue.Contacts: Ms. Nguyen 69 Pham Ngu Lao Street & Ba Trieu Hue City. No E mails or phone numbers available.HWHCGS – is a series of small scale charity gift shops established by an American called Marichia Arese some 8 years ago. These shops provide outlets for a large number of local Vietnamese disadvantaged victims from various Indochina conflicts. A brief visit to one of these locations to provide MCT with an alternative small scale not for profit project that could benefit from additional funding or resources.
  7. Huong Lai Restaurant was briefly visited when dining at the project’s open restaurant & seeing the recently trained street youth & disadvantaged individuals working their first real jobs. Similar to many we saw & not one of the best but certainly does good work in removing people from the street & giving them a second chance. Again similar to KOTO & Street Kids but on a much smaller scale. Worthwhile but in its infancy as a project for disadvantaged street youth. No scope for MCT to assist in any meaningful way.
  8. Cu-Chi Tunnels where MCT had a private meeting & tour by the survivor of the infamous Viet-Cong network of tunnels, one Mr. Nam who has never had his lost arm replaced with a prosthetic. Ben Dinh & Ben Duoc sections of the tunnels were viewed in some detail. MCT made another donation here.

COUNTRY 3 – Cambodia (Indochina) 13th December 2009 to 16th December 2009.

The shortest time available to visit of the three countries visited by MCT but certainly of equal importance if not more significant than Vietnam to the MCT fact finding tour of 2009. Cambodia having suffered under the tyranny of Pol Pot’s regime in the 1970’s & losing one third of her people to the genocide has scarred the nation visibly.

That said, Cambodia recovers strongly & continues to grow exponentially as a new, revitalized nation under a new & more transparent government. Time only permitted the short Mekong Delta tour on board a large river vessel en route from Vietnam’s city of Chau Doc to Cambodia’s capital called Phom Penh before normal ground service resumed followed by a short flight to Siem Reap where further ground tours visiting the people & perspective not for profit organizations.

  1. The first port of call was CMAG (Cambodia Landmine Advisory Group) were spoken with but essentially CMAG operates on exactly the same principles & basis as LMAG & their counterparts in Vietnam too. Hence with an obvious shortage of time, CMAG were spoken to on the phone & details exchanged for future communications & ideas as to possible ways of assisting.
  2. A bonus meeting with S-21’s most famous survivor Mr. Vann Nath was secured & MCT were able to have an interview along with a personal tour of Mr. Vann Nath’s personal art studio & the opportunity to assist his cause with the purchase of some of his prints depicting the horrific scenes from the infamous S-21 torture prison where over 15-17,000 innocent Cambodians were tortured to death in the late 1970’s by the Khmer Rouge.MCT Chairwoman purchased a substantial number of paintings to benefit the brave survivor Mr. Vann Nath & also made a donation to him & his wife. Mr. Vann Nath is currently instrumental in giving key evidence against a ‘Comrade Duch’ as he stands trial as a perpetrator of heinous crimes against humanity.
  3. Pour Un Sourire d’Enfant –PSE – (For the smile of a child)Contacts: Head Office is in France as it is a French charity originally. 49, Rue Lamartine, 78035, VERSAILLES Tél:0139671725 Email : psefrance@wanadoo.fr This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Physical Address: n° 402, Groupe 12, Village Trea, Stung Mean Chey, Phnom-Penh (A proximité du Phsar Sorla – marché Sorla). Adresse postale : BP 2107, Phnom Penh 3 Cambodge. Tél : +855 (0)23 995 660 Email : pse@site-pse.org Route Nationale 6Phum Kassekam, Khum Phsar Nger BP 93136,  Siem Reap Tél : +855 (0)12 182 4649 Email : psesr@site-pse.orgPSE is a small scale French charity that is growing rapidly all across Cambodia & was briefly visited by MCT for consideration when in Siem Reap & Phonm Penh. It concentrates on poverty stricken children, teenagers & some young adult individuals & associated families living amongst the slums & refuse pits of Phnom Penh & other Cambodian cities. They run a complete range of humanitarian programs with very specifically focused objectives. A very organized, well directed series of programs that are evaluated constantly so as to improve the services they provide. Worthy work carried out but other than a direct gift, donation or involvement in specific programs available on the web-site there is not much MCT can do to assist in its own right.
  4. Le Lotus Blanc – Catering School for the disadvantagedContacts: +855 23 30 0630 x209The PSE visit was followed by an evening meal & tour of Le Lotus Blanc (an off-shoot of sorts from PSE program) & is another example of the disadvantaged being given on the job training in the catering industry in the hope such training translates into vocational career for the previously un-skilled, un-trained poorer street people. Not really applicable to MCT monies or donations.
  5. Cambodia Landmine MuseumContacts: Mr. Aki Ra. www.cambodialandminemuseum.org &  info@cambodialandminemuseum.orgAfter S-21 (infamous torture prison of Pol Pot’s regime) & the killing fields most modern day charitable organizations left MCT feeling rather numb. None the less, Mr. Aki Ra’s landmine museum outside Siem Reap & his widespread de-mining project was duly visited & considered as a possible benefactor in the future funds. The organization has strong links with Canada & other international agencies who chip in from time to time in financial terms & terms of expertise for on the ground programs.Mr. Aki Ra has single handedly launched a Cambodia-wide de-mining program & successfully trained up his own teams of UXO experts over 20 odd years of safely deactivating over 50,000 landmines personally.
  6. Artisans D’Angkor was the final charitable organization visited by MCT, briefly this group of individual traders collectively make, paint, decorate local artworks & sell them for the benefit of the community at large. It is for profit but for the profit of the community of impoverished street dwellers of whom there are thousands in Siem Reap.

CONCLUSION

The above information is a summarized version & contact links for charities considered as part of MCT’s investigative visit. This brief synopsis is the formal abbreviated version of the more detailed & all encompassing events of Maria Magnus official MCT 3 week investigatory tour of Indochina. All undertaken with a view to future MCT derived aid to small scale humanitarian projects in the region.

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