Monday, May 21, 2007

Join Us On Our Trip To Vietnam (January 2008)

We are planning a twelve day Vietnam trip which will be leaving from O'Hare airport on January 19, 2008.

The trip is open to everyone from Chicagoland interested in touring this beautiful nation, helping needy children or both. At the Chicagoland learning leaders' innovation peer-networking breakfast on May 15th at Motorola, $1,000 was donated to help build the innovation learning center.

You can print a trip brochure with more details (click here) or feel free to contact me directly: +1.847.786.1002.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Picture of the Library & Innovation Learning Center

Last week, Chuck Theusch gave Tom and I a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) he signed with Miss Lam on his recent trip to Vietnam. Chuck came to Chicago to listen to who was giving a benefit fundraising concert for another project in Vietnam.

Chuck explained to us that Miss Lam picked June 1st for the day to start construction because it is recognized as Children’s Day in Vietnam.

The architect emailed a picture of the library and the learning center (phase I and II). The entire building is planned to be 8m x 24m divided into three rooms: one room for reading, one for book shelves, and one for computer, multi-media learning.

The architect is busy creating detailed (blueprint) drawings and estimating the building costs. We are using $65USD per square meter for building costs and the Library Project of Vietnam is planning on holding back 5% of the funds for future unexpected maintenance.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Thank You Card for Friends of Winnetka-Northfield Rotary

The Winetka-Nortfield Rotary
created this thank you card
to share with all the people
helping with the project

A Memorandum of Understanding Signed

To make sure everyone understands the commitment, Chuck Theusch and Miss Lam put their thoughts on paper and wrote a memorandum of understanding.

We have many friends of Rotary in the United States happy to help the homeless kids in An Giang, but Chuck has found the most successful projects is when commitments are shared between the local volunteers and the Rotary helping from the United States. They agreed on the ground breaking to be around June 1st with a completion before the September school year begins. Chuck also shared the amount of money we will be providing to help make sure a quality school library is built for the kids. Tom's sister has an architect making drawings, my understanding is the initial phase will be 8m by 16m for a two room school library (one room for the book and a quiet room for kids to read).

Other local visitors when Chuck Theusch Visited Khai Tri Orphanage

While Chuck was busy on a tour of the Khai Tri Orphanage, Tom's family and friends decided to visit Khai Tri too. His nephew, who just graduated from college in Ho Chi Minh City, arrived to find the electricity out and being a typical hot day, the kids started to get thirsty.

Compared to Americans, the Vietnamese families don’t use nearly as much electricity. Throughout the country it is not uncommon to have the electricity go out and for the most part it is not a big deal. The big hotels and many of the internet cafes have generators to generate electricity for their guest – most households don’t have air conditioning, lots of gadgets or lights so they just make do.

But out in the country where Khai Tri Orphanage is, the electricity can be out for hours or all day long. Tom’s nephew quickly identified a solution to add some large water storage tanks to hold the water during these outages. He told Tom that when his friend comes back from Ho Chi Minh City he and his friend will install the tanks and run new plastic pipes to the kitchen and bathrooms. He thinks it would be good to add a filter on the kitchen facet for additional purification and a basic filter to trap sand for the water pipes going to the bathrooms. A simple, yet effective solution.

Another visitor that day was Tom's family dentist. Miss Lam has found a volunteer doctor to give each of the Khai Tri Kids a checkup once a year, but up to this point a dentist hasn't volunteered to help. Sure enough, Tom's family dentist was quick to help by connecting Khai Tri Orphanage with a group of other dentists volunteers that help homeless kids. Thank you.

Picture Taken on April 12th 2007

We held the two benefit fund raising dinners in Winnetka on April 11th and April 12th. In the afternoon before the 2nd night, Chuck Theusch emailed me a picture of him with the Khai Tri Kids. You can see Chuck kneeling in the bottom right (2nd row from the front). Miss Lam is on the left side standing up.

By the time the dinner guests came that night, we were able to display this picture on the wall for everyone to see. It was great timing!!!

Behind the kids in this picture is the boys dormitory. Miss Lam explained to me that they were built with limited funs and someday she would like to replace them with more solid structures. Tom pointed out to me that steel roofs keep the rain out, but during the rainy session they are very loud. With nothing to muffle the sound, I would expect they would be quite loud if when the rain comes down really hard. The terrain in south Vietnam is very different than Chicago.

Benefit Dinner for Khai Tri Kids in Winnetka, IL

We had two successful nights of fund raising benefit dinners and raised $4,000 for the Khai Tri Kids. Tom Nguyen was the master chef and served a multi-course traditional meal for 43 friends of Winnetka-Northfield Rotary. Everyone enjoyed the fellowship and many asked to visit Vietnam in the Spring of 2008 to learn more about the four thousand year old culture and cuisine..

Here are some of the comments from the supporters who came to our benefit dinners:

So glad that the event was a big success! You guys certainly earned it with all the hard work you both put in (Wayne)

What you are doing with Tom is fabulous! (Dave)

Great job DIRK!!!!!! (Mike)

Thanks for a wonderful evening. The food was out of this world!! You must have given us about 9 servings. It's so nice to be able to help others and have fun doing it at the same time. You were the perfect host. Glad to hear that this project has been such a smashing success. (Kit)

Last night was a blast! (Ellen)

What a wonderful evening we had on Thursday! Many thanks to you and Tom and the others who provided us with such an extraordinary feast and overall outstanding evening of Rotary comeraderie! Please extend our thanks to the rest of your "team." (Carole)

It is inspiring to learn how the contributions of Rotarians are having an impact in Vietnam. (Cliff)