Seeing the Forest AND the Trees

Technology for a better world.

Giving Children a Chance in Cambodia June 25, 2008

Filed under: Cambodia,children,philanthropy — pdxbob @ 5:23 am

As my personal business card reads ‘Technology for a Better World’ I try to use technology to further good causes. I just blogged about donating items instead of dollars through a Virtual Warehouse and now I’d like to ask you to consider donating dollars to a cause that is so important to the future of our planet: fighting human trafficking. Yes, we have to slow down global warming and live more sustainably, but if we don’t fight the battle against greed and outright criminal abuse that the human traffickers are carrying out, we are forgetting about the children of this world who depend on us to provide a decent future for them.

James and Athena Pond are Oregonians who dedicate themselves to empowering young girls who are victims of human trafficking by providing them with opportunities to live a normal life and to heal their wounds. They founded Transitions Cambodia, have a transitional care home in Cambodia and consult worldwide to advise on setting up similar homes. But ultimately they rely on donations to get their work done. Transitions Cambodia, Inc (TCI) is trying to raise $1,000. on a Facebook cause by July 4th.

Please consider donating even as little as $10. to help them reach their goal by Independence Day.


Fight Sex Trafficking by seeing the Holly film this weekend May 21, 2008

I have just pledged on to go to the Saturday night viewing of the acclaimed film, Holly, at the Hollywood Theater if twenty more people will agree to go. I have seen this film before and it is a gripping story of an American expat, played by Ron Livingston of Office Space fame, who is disgusted by being propositioned by a very young girl while in Cambodia. The same reaction he had was also what James Pond, founder of Transitions Cambodia, had when he was in Cambodia years ago. Along with his entire family, he decided to do something and the result is a wonderful organization that rehabilitates girls who had fallen victim to sex trafficking in southeast Asia.

This is a big weekend for Transitions Cambodia in Portland! They are holding a silent auction at the Burdigala Wine Shop in SE Portland on Thursday night. Details here. Then on Friday and Saturday nights, Holly will be screened at the Hollywood Theater in NE Portland, followed by Q&A with James and Athena Pond, founders of Transitions Cambodia, Victor Jaya Sry, In-Country Director from Cambodia, Keith Bickford, head of the Oregon Human Trafficking Task Force, Wendy Freed, noted trauma therapist, and Guy Jacobson, writer and producer of Holly. Tickets for the movie can be purchased at here.

The Hollywood Theater can hold a lot more than twenty people. I’m pledging to encourage people to be part of a special evening and to learn about an important problem that affects both developing and developed nations.

Pledge, won’t you please? Hope to see you Saturday night (or if you make it Friday night).


Computer Instruction, high-speed access and Cambodia January 29, 2008

Filed under: bethkanter_cambodiacampaign,Cambodia,education — pdxbob @ 5:08 am

I’m writing this entry as a response to Beth Kanter‘s challenge.

What advice would you offer to Mam Sari about incorporating computer instruction on a REALLY slow connection and with one computer connected to the Internet?

If he has time, he can prepare for the class by printing out a Google results page and then annotating with his own comments. For example, he might have (in colored ink) labels for each part of each results item. Going over these as handouts to the class will give them something to study prior to their own practice.

Perform some searches before class and use the forward and back browser buttons to shorten the wait time between pages.

Use the “wait” time effectively. This is where pre-written or printed materials are helpful. Go to Google Help (available through the About Google page) and use some of the pages, printed, as material to expand the students’ understanding of what Google offers.

Are there any web resources or books that you think I should send over to him to read?

We in the developed world, have access to high-quality printers, plotters, etc. Having some color charts and handouts would be helpful. I don’t know what your budget is, and if the students can read English well, but providing how-to books for the students would be great.

Dream a little dream with me, if we had a fast Internet connection, what are the possibilities?

What do the students need to be successful? Do they need money to go to school? Having access to a high-speed connection gives them the ability to participate in the person-to-person loans that are becoming more common on the Internet (e.g., fynanz). Actually, I’m not sure this requires a fast connection but it would certainly allow students to do a lot more exploration, to see how they can get additional help, even virtual tutoring.

Just today, a friend suggested that it would be cool to have a microfinance-like site similar to Kiva, which instead of providing money for a business, provides money in the form of loans for education. I think it’s a great idea, although to get it to work effectively in countries like Cambodia will require some facilitative or management presence in the country. Making sure that the students have the support of their family, who may see education as a drain on their economic needs, to align students with programs and make sure the funds get to the school, etc. Sorry, I may be getting off topic a bit but the more that the everyday person in Cambodia can access the web as an extension of the market, the more likely such ventures will happen.


Education for Cambodian Children January 22, 2008

Filed under: America's Giving Challenge,Cambodia,Sharing Foundation — pdxbob @ 6:29 am

I’ve written about America’s Giving Challenge, urging readers to support the Sharing Foundation which helps get children out of poverty. We are in the stretch run now for the challenge, with the Sharing Foundation having raised over $14,000. from over 500 donations and are in 4th place in the challenge. The top 4 charitable organizations in the challenge will receive an additional $50,000. Let’s help them achieve this goal. Click on the “Give Now” button on the “Route Out of Poverty for Cambodian Children” widget on the right side of my blog.


There’s Hope in their Voices January 6, 2008

Filed under: Andy Brouwer,Cambodia,Mark Bittner,wild parrots — pdxbob @ 11:49 pm

Feeling like I am rising from the ashes of this horrible cold or flu, two wonderful voices have greeted me with hope. The first was Mark Bittner in the acclaimed documentary The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. I don’t remember where I first read of Bittner and this film but the rental arrived over the past week and we decided to watch it last night. Wild Parrots was like a warm blanket and cup of (just the right temperature) herbal tea, a soothing look at how one man has found his calling in life caring for these non-native birds in a leafy hill corner of a bustling American city (San Francisco). The main characters in the film are not human (well, yes, Bittner is but he is also a co-narrator) but they nevertheless have names, like Connor, and Mingus. In his folksy voice, Bittner tells how he was introduced to the parrots, how he became so attached to some of them, and that he had names for all of them as well (at least while he was living there). But there’s a point in the movie where he reflects on the whole experience and on whether he was being anthropomorphic, that really allowed us, the audience, a view into the soul of this gentle man. It was a beautiful point in the film. There is also a book by the same name. See the film as it is Bittner’s voice throughout that helps carry this wonderful story.

The other voice, written not spoken in this case, is that of Andy Brouwer, an expat Brit living in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. I was unable to keep up my reading pace through the past week due to this cold, and Andy has a tendency to become extremely prolific in his blog postings over a short period of time. Fortunately, today I have felt well enough to flee the home for a coffee shop and get some uninterrupted reading in. I had over twenty unread entries in Andy’s blog going back to December 30th, so I decided to start there. And am I happy I did. The mix of travelogue, history, humor and humanity that Andy weaves in his writings is truly remarkable. My heart was warmed by the pictures of Khmer children he met at temple visits or along the road, then it is wrenched from my chest as I observed the piles of skulls at the genocide memorial at Sala Trapeang Sva. Then the “three sreys” restored my hope and the painted pagoda at Wat Kork Ksang made me yearn to visit. I felt myself being very thankful that I had been introduced to Andy’s blog (thanks Kilong) for his light-hearted as well as his serious jaunts around that beautiful country have been a joy to follow. And finally, he has recommended a book that I am looking forward to reading: The Judas Strain by James Rollins. Andy’s recommendation mentions that he’s a Robert Ludlum fan. I devoured the Bourne series and am looking forward to reading another author of a similar vein.


Cambodian Children’s Education – thank you Nhuong Son December 31, 2007

Filed under: Cambodia,children,education,Nhuong Son,Sharing Foundation — pdxbob @ 8:33 pm

Beth sent me a link to Nhuong Son’s blog and in particular the entry about his support for the Sharing Foundation. After reading this you will see why even a little bit of aid for children in such a poor country means so much. Truly inspiring! Thanks Nhuong and Beth! If you agree, consider giving to the Sharing Foundation using the widget on the right side of my blog.


Technology and Service in Cambodia November 27, 2007

Filed under: Cambodia,philanthropy,technology — pdxbob @ 4:30 am

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about Cambodia lately including Michael Freeman’s book, various blogs and some MDG materials. Tonight I came across a growing social business named Digital Divide Data (DDD) that is set up as a 503-C in the US and as an NGO in Cambodia. DDD’s mission is two-part: to deliver high-quality digitization services to clients (one of which is the Harvard Crimson newspaper, and to provide to their employees “fair wages, health care, education, and career advancement opportunities”. Many of the employees, moreover, have physical challenges suffered because of land-mines, polio or other misfortunes of their poverty-striken lives in Cambodia.

I can’t say enough about an organization like DDD. They not only bring technology work to a country trying to raise itself out of poverty, but they bring work to the very people who have the most difficulty finding work: the physically challenged!

Their latest newletter reports that their employment has now reached 450 (from an original 18 in 2001) with an annual budget of $1.5 million, sixty percent of which is from earned revenues with the remainder from donations. There are a lot of people in need of work in Cambodia, both in the city of Phnom Penh and in the countryside. You can participate in DDD’s mission to raise up this wonderful country by helping their employees with their education. DDD has a scholarship program where an employee (referred to as an operator since they operate using computers) pays half of their educational costs and the donor pays the rest. They ask for $240. per year from a donor to cover the educational costs of the scholarship.

If you’re moved by this type of investment in a country’s and a person’s future, go to their web site and look at some of the videos. They are moving.