Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the world, per capita. From 1964 – 1973, there were more than 580,000 bombing missions in an attempt to eradicate communism. There was a bombing mission every 8 minutes 24/7 for 9 years. Two million tons of ordnance was dropped on Laos. It was called the secret war as Laos was not at war. Over 270 million cluster munitions were used. 80 million malfunctioned and remain live and buried in Laos landscape. Today, the countryside of Laos is still heavily contaminated and dangerous with UXO (unexploded ordnance) lying in rice fields, villages, school grounds and other populated areas.

There are many accidents and the presence of the UXO’s curtails socio-economic development in
Laos. It impacts agricultural productivity, infrastructure building and economic investment. This
contributes to a cycle of poverty in so many communities.

Within the cluster bombs are tennis ball sized bombies. There are up to 670 bombies within each cluster bomb. Each one needs to be defused. To date, over 40 years later, millions remain. It will take decades upon decades to clear these. The children often mistake the bombies for toys and pick them up and throw them around. This causes an explosion. Farmers are also among the worst affected, as the poorest are forced to toil the mine-laden fields to feed their families.

Eighty percent of people rely on their land to grow food in Laos, so they still use their land even at the risk of their own lives. 25% of all rural villages are still contaminated. ADOPT A VILLAGE IN LAOS Steve Rutledge is a Canadian volunteer who lives near Toronto, ON. In 2009, Steve founded Adopt A Village in Laos.

In the last few years, Steve has installed 3877 water filters in remote villages in the north of Laos. That means 20,000 more people are now drinking clean water. Approximately 40 villages to date. The entire village is given a talk on sanitation, on presentation of the filters. Steve asks for a show of hands on how many have had diarrhea in the past six months. Everyone raises their hand. Six months later, the same question is asked and only 3 hands go up. You can only imagine how much this improves quality of life and productivity. Approximately 30% of all water filters donated have been from our bridge fundraisers in Canada and USA.

ADOPT A VILLAGE IN LAOS: (continued) While rich in culture and tradition, education, healthcare and hygiene conditions are severely lacking in Laos. The average lifespan is only 58 years due to poor quality water, poor hygiene and general poverty. BUT with your help, a positive difference has been made in the lives of thousands of villagers. Steve Rutledge and his team have completed over a dozen school projects, 10 water projects bringing water to several villages (see above on day one of having water in a village for the first time ever!!) and bringing water to a hospital (imagine a hospital with no water!) and have completed well over 20 toilet banks for schools and villages. They have also provided critical hygiene training for families, schools and hospitals to promote a longer, healthier and happier life. That’s not all! They are also sponsoring a lot of primary and secondary school kids, 2 university students and 2 interns, plus they have installed numerous solar panels to bring light to the poorest of villages. Lots of bicycles were distributed to get even more kids to and from school and there were a number of smaller projects completed too. They are building a cultural centre in a remote village, thanks to a donation by a wonderful bridge player from Toronto, in memory of her husband. There are lots of adhoc projects also. They have just sent someone to China to buy 2000 winter coats, blankets and mosquito nets for an orphanage and secondary school. They have also purchased desks for schools, built fences around schools to keep out the water buffalo and their excrement (!!!), bought school supplies, fishing nets, and the list goes on and on. Patti Lee and Barbara Seagram take turns visiting these projects in Laos and teach English while there. Our main focus is to fundraise for water filters in remote villages in Laos. We have run fundraisers for seven years and have raised money for over 1,160 water filters! If you are able to buy one or more water filters, these cost $125.00 Can or $100.00 USD each. A water filter lasts well over 20 years and needs minimal maintenance (just brushing with a small brush every few months). Any donation of $30.00 or more will receive a tax receipt. If you donate one or more water filters, you will receive a photo of the family receiving the filter & your name will be on the label: