ASIA CONNECTION INC. March 2013
As most readers of this newsletter already know, the overwhelming recent event for ACI was the loss of our founder and leader, Bill Rose, in early January of this year. Technically this newsletter is a report on our activities in 2012, but there’s no way we can send it out without paying tribute to Bill and acknowledging the debt ACI (& we suspect many other individuals and institutions) owe to him. Throughout his life Bill forged ahead quietly and effectively doing good. We miss him.
That said, ACI will continue with its mission “To provide financial assistance for agencies and individuals involved in emergency relief and health and welfare projects in needy parts of the world, with a particular focus on Asia,” under the leadership of Program Director and now Board Chairman John Havican (firstname.lastname@example.org), Vice-chair Mary Held, Treasurer Ted Rose, Secretary Lily Ackerman, and Board Members Kerry Heubeck and Hilary Smith. We are funded to 2028 by a bequest from Bill’s mother, Elizabeth Rose, and by donations from generous contributors, and have begun building an endowment to carry us beyond 2028. We hope to be around and providing effective support to friends old and new for many years.
In 2012 Asia Connection’s biggest single grant went to help the Nguyen Nga Rehabilitation Center, serving the handicapped in and around Quinhon, to purchase property on which to build and maintain a facility independent of landlords. The Center hopes to incorporate architectural and technological features showcasing techniques for maximizing independence for the handicapped and for minimizing energy consumption. Ms. Nga and her many friends are now embarked on fundraising to make this dream a reality. ACI will certainly continue to support the Center’s admirable programs at the level we have for several years (roughly $15,000/year). The large grant in 2012 was a one shot deal, seizing the opportunity for the Center to acquire a wholly suitable site.
ACI has also continued its support for a number of programs in the Kontum areas affiliated with the Diocese and the dedicated Sisters there. These include a midwife training program, village feeding program, family science program (training young Montagnard girls in sewing, weaving and home economics), medical clinics in Kontum and Kon Je Dre, and Ya Gabrielle’s boarding facility for students attending school in the Kontum area. John Havican continues to make regular visits to Ho Chi Minh City, Kontum, and Qui Nhon to monitor these programs and assess their needs. He is also at work preparing a booklet on burn prevention for elementary school students, burns being still a major problem in Vietnam. Recently he traveled to Hanoi to meet with Lady Borton and discuss with her the work she has been doing supporting sustainable communities in that area and to tap into her vast expertise on Vietnam. Our grants in the Kontum Area run between $20,000 & $30,000 twice a year. There have still been no suitable candidates for Pat Smith medical scholarships: the money raised for that purpose remains in a CD, growing conservatively, until such time as candidates appear.
Our friend and former colleague Dr. Edric Baker got good news in 2012 when two young American MD’s agreed to join him at the Kailakuri Health Care Program in Bangladesh. ACI continues its support of this program, so similar to what those of us who had the good fortune to work with Dr. Pat Smith at the Minh-Quy Hospital saw working so well in Kontum. Kailakuri provides health care “for the poor by the poor” in an area of overpopulation, ethnic diversity, and grinding poverty, serving large numbers of the sick and needy with outreach programs and inpatient care. ACI has committed to a direct grant of $10,000 annually and hopes to provide more if at all possible. Meanwhile we also forward funds to Kailakuri that have been raised by others to meet the overwhelming needs of the area. Our total Kailakuri grant in 2012 was $20,850.
As most of you know we have for some time supported the Indradevi AIDS care and prevention program in Cambodia and will continue to do so, transferring funds raised by Don Luce, Mark Bonacci and Kay Halvorsen to Phnom Penh on a regular basis. Traditionally we have sent up to $15,000 annually to this excellent program which offers assistance with food to AIDS-afflicted families, safe-sex education, and job training for former sex workers. In 2012 we were able to transfer $25,000 to Indradevi.
Smaller grants went out to Cambodiacorps, an organization helping Montagnards displaced to Cambodia to achieve higher education ($4,000), Burma Humanitarian Mission supporting Backpack Medics in that challenging part of the world ($2,000), East Bay Sanctuary providing assistance to those hoping to become legal immigrants ($1,000), and Vietnam Project making small grants to individuals and families in Vietnam struggling to become independent and productive citizens ($1,000). In addition Bill made personal donations to the following through ACI: Christian Peacemakers, Rabbis for Peace, Vietnam Veterans, and an organization working to improve educational opportunities for children in East Timor.
Here -- in very rough figures (rounded off to the nearest 100) -- is the big picture:
Investment Account (endowment): $325,000
CD’s: $37,300 (of which $16,200 is earmarked for Pat Smith Scholarships)
Checking Accounts $115,800
Annual income: $135-140,000
Annual grants given out: +/-$105-130,000
Administration: +/- $5,000 (accountant, investment counselor, postage, annual meeting)
These figures are rough and sketchy but you can see we’re healthy and can certainly continue our present level of grant making and plan to do so. Meanwhile we continue to discuss options for increasing income, decreasing expenses, and building endowment. We deeply appreciate the support from all of you over the years.
Finally, here’s a story from a letter John Taylor sent describing the surreal sense of impending doom as Kontum awaited attack in 1972. “Bill Rose,” he wrote, “One of the true heroes of the Highlands, smuggled thirty-two Montagnard orphans onto the crowded, chaotic airstrip, and persuaded a U. S. Army sergeant charged with keeping refugees off the planes to let them on. His authorization? He was ‘a representative of the Smithsonian Institute evacuating survivors of a race that faces extinction.' They had no trouble boarding.” That’s our Bill!