More Than a Drop in the Bucket
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More Than a Drop in the Bucket

Grand Circle Foundation Supports Clean Water & Sanitation in Laos and Around the World

In Samuel Taylor Coleridge's famous poem, the ancient mariner laments, "Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink." In too many countries around the world, safe, clean drinking water is a scarcity, forcing people to risk disease by drinking whatever water is available or to walk, sometimes for miles, with heavy pitchers to source a hygienic supply.

Equally pressing is the need for sanitation in developing countries. According to the World Health Organization, 2.7 billion people around the world will lack access to proper sanitation facilities this year, leading to an exacerbated risk of disease and—particularly among girls and women—a greater risk of sexual assault. Some girls are even denied an education because of a lack of toilets at schools and the need to spend valuable time fetching water for their families.

Grand Circle Foundation is dedicated to doing our part to bring clean water and sanitation to the developing world. Among the projects we funded last year were a water pump and bore hole at Dastkar—a local women's craft cooperative—and a bore hole at the Saini Adarsh Vidhya Mandir Primary School in India; water purification systems for Myanmar's Aye Yeik Mon Orphanage, Myin Ma Htie Village, and Yadanar Myintzu Monastic School, and for Booyapark School in Thailand; and the construction of a well at Thanlar Boys Orphanage, also in Myanmar. We also have sponsored the installation of toilets in schools and orphanages in China, Fiji, and Vietnam.

Many of our efforts have been concentrated on Laos. Last year alone, we provided a water tank to Tin Keo Village, and a water pump and toilets to the Houay Hia School. On April 20th of this year, a team spearheaded by Grand Circle's regional office staff supported our efforts in Laos with a community service event for the community of Ban Nonsaath, 15 miles south of Luang Prabang, the country's ancient, royal capital.

The community had been moved to this location by the government about 15 years ago, and living conditions are harsh. Most locals get their daily drinking water from a stream that is not clean. When it dries up during drought season, people have to fill containers from the Mekong River, over a mile's walk away.

Our regional team in Laos decided to help by engaging in the set-up of a 1,000-gallon water tank in the village. On the day of the event, four OAT staff members; Pakhouy Mixay, one of OAT's restaurant vendors; and 20 villagers convened at Nonsaath, eager to mix cement and clear the spot where the permanent base of the water tank would be built.

"We were really having fun working on the site with the villagers," recalls OAT's regional manager, Khamla Vilayphone. "People here are so charming and friendly. One of the village elders came over and told us some local jokes that made all of us laugh." Before they knew it, the morning had flown by, and the volunteers were invited to the home of the local chief, where the village had prepared a lunch that included contributions from Pakhouy Mixay. "We all really enjoyed sharing the meal with the villagers and having a friendly talk with them," says Khamla.

After lunch, the team finished their task and headed back to Luang Prabang—but not before receiving the warm thanks of the village chief. "Mr. Siya stated to our team over lunch that they never thought it would be possible to have communal water in their village until today," says Khamla. "This project will surely benefit the 273 people in that community. Thank you, Grand Circle Foundation, for giving us a chance to help change people's lives in Laos."

Featured in our Summer 2015 E-Newsletter.