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50 Rotary Wheels for Learning Bicycles for Rural Laos Children


Rotary Wheels for Learning Field Coordinator, Lisa McCoy, is back from Cambodia with lots of news to share:

50 Rotary Wheels for Learning Bicycles for Children in Two Villages in Northern Laos
The Rotary Club of Gravenhurst has sponsored 50 bicycles for children in rural northern Laos. The distribution took place in February 2012 and was conducted byAdopt a Village in Laos (AAVIL):
It was a year ago, that Gravenhurst Rotarian Lisa McCoy spent a month in Laos with Whitby-Sunrise Rotarian Steve Rutledge from AAVIL. It was there that she visited two of the schools built by AAVIL in the remote hills of northern Laos (north of Luang Prabrang). She also learned of the many, hilly miles the children covered to get to these schools.
Now thanks to the Rotary Club of Gravenhurst and AAVIL – 50 children can cover the miles to school easily and quickly. Here follows some details from Steve Rutledge on the Laos distribution:

Meung Kai – 20 Bicycles:
‘We headed to a couple of the bicycles shops we had already spec’d out and spoke with the owner.  We hit it off right away – Long (her name) and her family moved from Thailand years ago and she had three businesses going at the same time including a grocery store where we bought imported foods.
Her brother owned the bicycle part of the shop and both were really kind to us.  Being quite well off, they offered us the bicycles basically at their cost plus 10,000 KIP per bicycle (about $1.25 profit) because they understood that we are just trying to give the rural villagers hope and a chance at a good life.
Next was the difficult task of finding transportation – we rented 2 buses.  Of course not the buses you would see here – they are open aired buses where people sit on benches along the sides and lean back against the railing so they can squeeze more people in the middle, along with others standing on the outside step clinging on to whatever they can grasp!
The shop had their own people load the buses (no charge) and they were on their way.
When we got there, the villagers were waiting for us of course.  The bicycles arrived a couple of hours before we did so they could complete the final assembly.  Once we arrived we were ushered into their community room (I have to admit that I was surprised they even had one but learned it was the old school).
After speeches of thanks from the village chief and from a government representative, we gave them a crash course on how important it was to take good care of their bicycles.
Pha Yong – 30 Bicycles:

‘The villagers from Pha Yong and the Khmu chief came out with the students and villagers to greet us.
They had just regraded a relatively new road that cut the journey off to the village by hours – it still takes about 1 1/2 hours from Viengkham (about 10 villages before Nong Khiaw).  This is where we did the distribution.   I sent the bicycles up the night before so they could do the final assembly.
 So I caught the first bus heading to Nong Khiaw and hoped to arrive at roughly the same time as the kids – but of course that wasn’t to be.  The kids were so excited that they wanted to leave early and had arrived by 9am.  My bus got stuck due to construction on the road – there had been a major mudslide during the rainy season and they were regrading a hill right beside the road.  Of course the road was closed and we just waited and waited…and waited.
I was feeling sorry for the kids of course but there was nothing I could do!!!
I arrived 2 hours late (3 hours later than the kids) and fortunately Bounmy had the foresight to get the kids to sign off for their bicycles and had done a preliminary speech for me so all there was left to do was distribute the bicycles and take pictures – yeaaahhh!!!
It should be noted that these kids are either graduating from grade 3 this year or are already in Grade 4, and will be commuting to Sop Khan Village (to go to grade 4 and 5).
1 1/4 hours from my arrival, I was already on the bus heading back to Luang Prabang because I had another really busy day ahead of me.  I couldn’t believe how smoothly everything went.’
Thanks, Steve – it was great to see these children and their ‘Rotary Wheels’.
– please consider sponsoring a bike for a child. Your $50 donation will provide a child with a sturdy bicycle.  All donations will go towards our January 2013 distribution. Donors receive a photograph of their sponsored child(ren)  and short, biographical information. Donations are tax-receiptable in Canada.
Many Thanks from the Rotary Club of Gravenhurst to ALL the Rotary Clubs and individual donors who supported our distribution of 1,097 Bicycles.  Any Club or Group wishing a visual presentation of this distribution and the Rotary Wheels for Learning program can contact Lisa McCoy for arrangements: 705-687-8538 

Rotary Wheels for Learning is an international project of the Rotary Club of Gravenhurst, Ontario, District 7010.

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