Phuong* ran away from home when he was 10 years old. He was born in the far north of Vietnam. His mother lives in China and his father sold him to an extended family member when he was just 7 years old. His adopted family treated him badly, and insisted that he work on the streets instead of going to school. Phuong ran away to Hanoi.
Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation staff met him in late 2011 at the local market. Sadly, they’ve been unable to locate a family member willing or able to take care of him. So now Phuong is living at Blue Dragon’s shelter in Hanoi where he’s being supported to go back to school. He’s a really happy, friendly kid and loves going to school every day.
May 20th this year marks the 10th Anniversary of the Restoration of Independence in Timor-Leste. There will be enormous celebrations and you could be there!
Our first Intrepid trip of the season starts on this anniversary, so it’s well worth arriving in the capital, Dili, a day or two early so you have plenty of time to kick up your heels with the locals. There’ll be parades, music and dancing in many of the districts, so no doubt the celebratory feel will carry on throughout Intrepid’s 15 day adventure.
The island of Floreana was once home to the Floreana mockingbird, one of four endemic species of mockingbirds only found in the Galapagos Archipelago. The introduction of cattle, goats, cats and rats by humans since the 1800′s caused dramatic changes in the ecosystem of Floreana, including heavy grazing on the island’s vegetation and predation on nests and adult birds, such as the Floreana mockingbird.
Fortunately, two islets off the coast of Floreana remained free of introduced species of mammals and currently represent the last strongholds for the Floreana mockingbird: Champion and Gardner. In 2007, an ambitious plan to restore this species in its former territory was launched and consists of three phases:
Right now in Russia it’s cold. Very cold! A temperature range of -9 to -15 degrees Celsius in St Petersburg is challenging for anyone, let alone the 30,000 homeless people. This is an official estimation, but local experts believe it is more likely that 60-70,000 people in the city are without a safe place to sleep. The Intrepid Foundation is pleased to help bring some warmth to needy Russians through the local charity Nochlezhka. Grigory Sverdlin, their Executive Director sends us an update…
“Thanks very much to all the Intrepid travellers and Intrepid Travel for their support to our Night Bus project. We know this support saves lives. We also know that every winter dozens of people die from cold exposure, and hundreds more are disabled as a result of amputation, so there is so much more we could do.
2011 saw some big challenges and changes in Egypt. The revolution in January marked the start of a new era, but while the country regroups many regions are experiencing a dramatic drop in visitors. With so many Egyptians relying on tourist dollars to support their families, sadly pictures of starving animals are making headlines.
The Animal Care in Egypt (ACE) hospital on the outskirts of Luxor has had its hands full, and Kim from ACE reports on how one special in-patient touched the hearts of everyone at this Intrepid Foundation-supported project…
Braille reading kits and Braille canes were deservedly top sellers amongst Intrepid Foundation ‘Global Gifts’ sales this Christmas. These will be distributed by Braille Without Borders (BWB), a wonderful organisation bringing education to blind children in Tibet. They have made extraordinary inroads in not just education, but also dispelling myths around disability in Tibet. Sabriye, the founder of BWB, updates us on their news…
“Right now, Tibet is freezing cold. On the farm, at an altitude of 3900m, the temperature varies between 11 degrees celsius during daytime and minus 11 degrees at night. Everyone has prepared for the coldest winter months of January and February. Our Tibetan colleagues use south-facing greenhouse like structures in front of the dormitory-windows to collect the heat of the sun. On the doors the house parents have placed extra quilts and blankets to protect the kids from the icy winds.
A 5-day eye camp in the Kampong Chen Cheung commune of Stong District, Cambodia, has recently restored sight to over 190 people. Around 500 people lined up to have their eyes checked by an outreach surgical team consisting of an ophthalmologist, a resident and three nurses. Intrepid travellers and The Intrepid Foundation have supported The Fred Hollows Foundation’s Cambodia program over many years, and have helped restore hope and dignity to many Cambodians through the restoration of their sight.
Mr Chhun Chat, the commune chief, said that every year The Fred Hollows Foundation’s eye camp brings hope, smiles and laughter to his villages. “As far as I remember it has been the fifth eye camp conducted in my commune,” he says. “We were waiting for their visit to arrive sooner, so hundreds of people would have the chance to see their loved ones again.”
A challenge for vulnerable youth in many communities is finding the opportunity to forge their future. If you have been raised in poverty, homelessness or suffering other disadvantages, finding a right fit might simply be having your eyes opened to possibility. Such possibilities were recently presented to a group of young Laotian men, who are training in mechanics with Peuan Mit, a project supported by The Intrepid Foundation and based in Vientiane.
The 14 young men went on a study trip to a large Kolao workshop accompanied by their teachers. At Kolao, they met the head of the mechanics garage and the manager. Kolao is a Korean brand of motorcycle that is extremely popular in Laos, so the mechanics students learn every possible way to repair and service them because in their future job, they are most likely to see these models.
Introducing an amazing woman who knows a thing or two about challenges… after Robin Lim’s sister and her sister’s baby died from complications during childbirth several years ago, Robin and her husband sold their home in Hawaii and moved to Bali to ‘reinvent their lives’. It was there that Robin soon learnt she could help make a big difference to the life prospects of pregnant women and their newborn babies.
In 1994 Robin opened a clinic, Bumi Sehat, so that impoverished local mothers could give birth safely and be treated with dignity and respect. Nearly 18 years on, ‘Ibu’ (meaning mother) Robin has helped to safely deliver thousands of babies. In acknowledgement of her extraordinary work, Ibu Robin has recently been bestowed the wonderful recognition in being named the ’2011 CNN Hero of the Year’.