ASIA CONNECTION INC. --- 2009 Annual Report
We continued our outreach to ACI's traditional areas of concern - Viet Nam, Bangladesh and Cambodia. Our contributors continued their loyal support despite the outgoing worldwide economic malaise, and it was a productive year.
Thanks to Program Director John Havican's rapport with staff at the Diocese in Kontum, Viet Nam, we were able to address special needs that weren't met from other sources. We made a $27,000 grant for construction of a new clinic, and although there were unavoidable delays at the outset the project was completed by year's end. The new facility is small (15m. x 10m.) but sturdily built and strategically located, and we hope it will serve needy patients for years to come.
We made additional grants for various endeavors that will have a positive impact on rural villages in the Kontum area: a supplementary feeding program, home economics training, support for the village girls' student dormitory in Kontum, and financial assistance for flood victims.
We also provided funds for Sister Gabrielle's work in the outlying village of Kon J'Dreh: to purchase supplies for the clinic there and to support her successful midwives' training program. Sister Gabrielle's program and a similar one operated by the Sisters of the Miraculous Medal in Kontum have produced a total of 231 midwives who are serving in forty-eight villages.
We are proud to support their work, which is increasingly important as the ethnic minority population in the Highlands continues to dwindle vis-a-vis the Vietnamese majority. We do of course have a concern for the people in need regardless of ethnic extraction, and we're pleased to continue our support for the Nguyen Nga Rehabilitation Centre in Quinhon, a program that provides therapy and training for handicapped people with the long-range goal of helping them towards physical and economic independence.
Asia Connection's involvement in the Center resulted from a chance meeting between John Havican and Mrs. Nguyen Nga, the Center's founder, two years ago. When the program was assessed it seemed a logical step for us to expand our focus from the ethnic Montagnard population to include needy Vietnamese from the lowlands, and it has been a rewarding experience for all involved.
The Center is privately run and depends on donations for its support. There are over 150 students, young adults who are deaf, blind, or have other physical disabilities. A number of these have set up small businesses of their own or are attending vocational training classes or are employed by the Center itself.
In an environment dominated by government programs this is a rare example of privately-run social welfare activity, and it has drawn praise from government circles as an example of local initiative. The Center has plans to expand pending government approval, and we hope to continue our support as their program develops.
In Bangladesh we provided two $10,000 grants to the Kailakuri Health Care Program. This was initiated by our old Minh Quy Hospital colleague Dr. Edric Baker, who has worked with much dedication to create a health care facility employing locally-recruited and locally-trained medical staff in the Minh Quy tradition, a model of "the poor helping the poor." It is a remarkable program in which people of various ethnicities, religions, and traditions come together to be healed and, in some cases, learn health care skills and join the hospital staff.
As the medical center has grown over the years increasing numbers of the people are seeking help, and the center is hard-pressed to meet their needs. Dr. Baker writes:
"....Most of my time is now going to seeking to establish our sustainability for the future. I am kept busy and hopefully some progress is being made. More buildings are going up thanks to two New Zealand Rotary Clubs and they look impressive although I try to insist that success is to be measured in benefits to the poor not in buildings! We hope you will be able to continue to support us.."
ACI's assistance for the Indradevi AIDS care and prevention program in Cambodia also continued at its regular level. ACI associates Don Luce in Buffalo New York and Kay Halvorson in St. Paul Minnesota were able to raise $29,500 in the course of the year from their respective networks of donors. These funds were used for educational programs (a special $5,000 grant was earmarked for construction of a new training center) and for supplementary food and medications for HIV-afflicted families in the Phnom Penh area.
Cambodia, in contrast to more affluent neighboring countries such as Thailand and Viet Nam, is lacking in infrastructure and effective governmental institutions. In an environment where public support is absent non-governmental organizations have stepped in to help fill the void. Private groups like Indradevi are essential for basic health and welfare, and we are glad to play a role in this endeavor.
ACI served as a temporary financial agent for the Cambodian Children's Rural Development Organization, a recently-organized group that operates a rural education program in central Cambodia and which is in the process of securing 501(c)(3) tax exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service. For a brief period we accepted donations on their behalf and transferred them to their bank account in Siem Reap, a service that we were glad to perform.
Also we made a small grant to East Timor Religious Outreach, a group based in California that assists needy students in one of Asia's most improverished nations.
It is a privilege to be in a position to assist people in need, and we extend our sincere thanks to our supporters and also to the many dedicated people in far-flung places who insure that Asia Connection's grants are put to optimal use.
- Bill R.
Tampa, March 2010
2009 Finances - Tampa account
Balance l January 2009 40,107.08
Donations received during 2009 103,281.26
Grants and expenses during 2009 -116,401.22
Balance 31 December 2009 26,987.12
Grants: Kontum Diocese and
Nguyen Nga Rehab Center 61,970
Indradevi and Cambodian Children's
Kailakuri Health Care Program 20,000
Bank fees( wire transfers) 315
Income tax preparation 2,000
Our operating costs took a tick upward, due in part to a 2,000 fee for revamping our bookkeeping system. Toward the end of the year it had become apparent that we had crossed the boundary that separates 'private foundations' from 'public charities' due to an increasing number of small-scale donations from our 'Indradevi' and 'Friends of Kontum' constituencies, and we sent a form to the IRS requesting an official change of status. This was granted, eflective January 1, 2010. As concerns day-to-day operations and tax benefits for donors there will be no significant diflerence; but it will make for simpler and more economical accounting,so we welcome the change.