Well, I am feeling like I am on a roll writing my second blog in one night! I am cheating a little, cause I am going to cut and paste some of the content from the JLF Fan page. In future blogs that isn’t months ago, I will be better at writing in depth and detailed things and thoughts about. This mission was a direct result of our previous mission in February. While we were giving out winter clothes to the villagers, it broke our hearts to see that we weren’t doing enough, that there are still so many kids who needed warm clothes! I had made a promise to my husband that I would reduce my travel for JLF to just once a year, and that February mission constituted that already. While still in Laos, I called Tui up, told him the things I witnessed and felt, took a deep breath, and asked if I can come back again in a few months time to help more children in need. His answer didn’t surprise me all that much as he told me “Of course” without any hesitation.
I never can stop counting my blessings for having such a supportive and loving husband and children who understands my passion and need to help these children. I cannot do what I do all these years without their wavering support and patience. Having visited the village children themselves several times too, they understand why I must do what I do for them. I truly believe charity starts at home, and I hope that through our charitable actions they witness and are a part of at home, that they will grow up to be compassionate and kind adults in the world. The things our children in the developed world will never have to go through only makes me want to provide comforts for these Lao children.
Some things such as warm winter clothes are basic necessities for us in a developed world, but for people in the remote mountain top villages of Laos, these things are luxuries that they may never be able to afford. On JLF’s last mission to Laos in June, we provided 1,500 children with lime green JLF tote bags filled with coats or jackets, beanies, mitts, scarves, socks, shoes, and dental kits. It was the largest amount of donations we’ve ever done requiring a 20 feet shipping container to be sent over to Laos. It took us over two months to gather all these items, and supporters throughout the USA contributed so kindly and generously to this relief effort.
Laos is a tropical country, but in the high mountains it does experience very cold weather conditions, so cold that it actually snowed in winter of that year. Visiting the 11 mountaintop villages in Nong Het district of Xieng Khouang province was not easy and required the help of state officials and their transportations. The Ministry of Overseas Foreign Affairs helped get our donations waived from paying a $2,200 tariff fee. The Xieng Khouang province and Nong Het district department of social welfare provided transportation and extra manpower to help organize and distribute the donations. Our 8 volunteers worked long and hard hours and days to complete our mission to not just bring totes of warm clothes to the children but to bring totes of hope and let them know that there are so many of us in the world who cares. JLF thanks each and everyone of you who contributed in helping to make this humanitarian mission possible. We are appreciative of everyone who donated and shipped hundreds and thousands of warm clothes and shoes (over 10,000 items) from your home states to California and cash donations so that we can purchase these items. It’s really does take a whole JLF village to help a village and especially to help 11 villages with the basics of human need, a need to feel warm and loved.
I don’t know when I’ll return to this part of Laos again, but these photos (link below) will keep memories of my time close to my heart. Theirs is a life untouched by the outside world, but they were so welcoming to our presence and presents. Humble in their hearts and grateful in their smiles, I am left feeling a special love and gratitude for being able to be a part of their lives even if for a fleeting moment in time.