Enote 71 – Annual Report

April 29, 2011

Dear Friends,

We are pleased to report that on our trip in 2010, we were able to give over a quarter of a million dollars in scholarships and projects grants in Asia. We accepted more students for scholarships, while at the same time increased our aid to projects. Considering our mission of aid to refugees for education, 2010 was the best year we have had since we began operations in 1997. It was a very exciting and fulfilling time for us to work. It did however have an unfortunate side effect in 2011 which I explain below.

Awarding a new scholarship usually starts a program of support for 3 or 4 years. So we began the 2011 year with more demands for continuing students than normal. At the same time the dollar had been losing value relative to the Thai baht. In fact the baht is about 9% more expensive in 2011 than in 2010. As a result in 2011 we had insufficient funds to meet our expectations, and we were hustling to fit our desires to give new scholarships in with our current commitments. By cutting each project 5% and cutting some continuing students a small amount, we were able to accept 45 new students. In the future we plan to limit the number of new scholarship awards despite the money we have that year to reduce the chance of over commitment.

Our conservative operating policy requires us to commit money only from sources we already have in hand. That is why we raise money in one year to spend in the following year. The summary of Income and Expenses below prepared for this report shows that we spent $20,453 more than we raised. This apparent contradiction is resolved by noting the Expenses for 2010 were funded by money raised in 2009, a very good year. Although we raised 20% more funds in 2010, than in 2009, $77,500 of those funds were designated for the endowment and the remaining funds left for operating budget $299,378 were only about $5,000 more than those available last year. 

We have tried very hard to keep overhead low, and this year we spent only 1.2% of our total expenditures on overhead. We are able to do this not simply by our own efforts, but also with the help of many generous professionals who have volunteered their time in our service. However, as the size and complexity of our organization grows, we come under increasing pressure to spend more money for administration and professional services.

Summary of Income and Expenses 2010 in US Dollars

INCOME

EXPENSES

Individual Gifts

143,143

 

Grants in Thailand

 

 

Trustee's Gifts

41,185

 

Scholarships

131,144

 

Grants Received

60,000

 

Projects

74,030

 

Endowment Gifts

77,500

 

Grants in India

 

 

Direct Public Support

 

321,828

Scholarships

25,324

 

Dividends & Interest

 

1,451

Projects

24,801

 

Income from Endowment

 

2,977

Total Direct Grants

255,299

 

Capital gains/losses

 

29

Other Program costs

9,936

 

 

 

 

Total Program Expenses

 

265,235

 

 

 

Management and General

1,925

 

 

 

 

Fundraising

2,077

 

 

 

 

Overhead

 

4,002

 

 

 

Transfer to Endowment

 

77,500

TOTAL INCOME

 

326,284

TOTAL EXPENSES

 

346,737

Income - Expenses

 

-20,453

 

 

 


Pie Chart

 

Our fundraising year typically begins at the end of March on our return home from Asia, and stops at the end of the calendar year on December 31. Those assets determine how much we can commit during our January through March trip. The distribution of sources can be seen in the figure on the right. Each category should be clear from its name, except Other, which includes Dividends and Interest, Income from Endowment, and Capital gains. 
This year we received a gift of $985 from Spiritus Christi Church in Rochester, NY, and another of $990, in January 2011. Internet giving is up this year but is still a small fraction of our donations. We need to work harder in three areas of soliciting donations: Internet presence, Mailing list expansion, and Grant development. If any of you reading this can help us in any way with one of these three activities, we would be very grateful.

Trip to Asia 2011

Bangladesh

This year for the first time we included a stop in Bangladesh to visit the Rohingyas. Our experience can be summed up in a statement we read the other day, to wit “The Rohingyas are the most persecuted and wronged people on the face of the earth today…” The Rohingyas are a Muslim minority people who live in Rakhine State Burma. You can locate it on the bottom left of the map. (You can also locate Aizawl where we go to help the people from Chin State, just above Rakhine State.) The country on the far left of the map just north of Rakhine State is Bangladesh, where many of them go to escape the Burmese.

Chin Chin

We contacted John Littleton, a representative ofChildren on the Edge to help us make contact with the refugees. We met him in Dhaka, and traveled the next day to Cox’s Bazar, where we were joined by an upper-middle class Rohingya who supports their cause in many ways. He and John brought us to visit a refugee camp. There we learned that there are only about 16,000 official refugees who receive aid from the UN and some 40,000 who have settled adjacent to the refugee camp without any support. Their conditions are appalling. We will look for support this year to do what we can to help the Rohingyas in their needs for education.

India

We spent ten days in Mizoram state, India visiting the Chin people and our projects there. Last year, because of some misunderstandings communicating with the regional CWOs, we appointed a young woman, Chin Chin shown at right, to visit the CWOs and report on their progress. We met with Chin Chin this year and are happy to say that we received an excellent report covering those visits. The new high school projects in Lunglei, Lawngtlai, and Saiha are developing nicely. As usual we traveled to Champhai and Zokhawthar to see the projects we had there and visit the project directors. At that time we heard of the poor children at Saikhum village. They were reluctant to attend school because they simply could not afford uniforms. School uniforms had never been one of our big funding priorities, but we have increasingly come to recognize their importance especially to poor children, and despite our known problems with limited funds we were persuaded to supply a small amount to buy twelve uniforms for the children. From the emails and pictures we received, they were a tremendous success.

 

Thailand

Doug

Back in Thailand we were accompanied for the first time by Doug Offenhartz, our new TRep for the interview trip to Sangklaburi. Doug brought along two elderly Thai women who were an absolute delight to have along. The English and Thai of both of them were perfect, and they were not only helpful with interpreting, but served to teach us a lot about Thai politics and culture.  We spent several very pleasant days with Doug and these two wonderful Thai ladies. Later on Doug observed that he had never had so many blessings before he joined us in our work. 
On return we met with Myint Wai, director of the DEAR Burma program which offers Sunday courses in Thai, English, and Computer skills to migrant workers in Bangkok. This is a large school serving up to 900 students with 24 teachers in the language classes and up to 132 students with 10 teachers in computer skills. The school had been affected by the political disturbances in Bangkok last year, but now is back in full-time operation. DEAR Burma also runs library projects in outlying towns in Thailand primarily to provide a gathering place where migrant workers can congregate to support one another. It also conducts occasional courses in Music and Environmental Health Training, and runs seminars on issues of current interest in Burma.

After 10 years of supporting the Loi Tai Leng School, we finally got to visit the site. This school was started by Shan monks for a group of some 60 children, and received our original support in 2001. As the fighting has continued over the years in Shan state, people have moved to the site on the border of Thailand because it is protected by the Shan State Army. Now the community is the second largest of nine housing Shan IDPs along the Thai border. The school has over 600 students. We had opportunities to speak with the school headmaster and other Shan leaders. We were there during a Shan national holiday and saw much ceremony and celebration. I came away primarily with the impression that it is very cold up there in the mountains. Loi Tai Leng SchoolLoi Tai Leng School just north of Thai Border

Prompted by the new interest in the Rohingyas in Bangladesh, and by the tight budget we were dealing with this year, we decided to do an evaluation of all of our current projects. Of the 15 projects we currently support, 5 were started 10 or more years ago. The average age of a project is 9 years. We have never had a good exit strategy for projects and now it is time to develop one. We are indebted again this year to our very fine group of TReps. Hoppy and Judy Winfield struggled heroically to trim the size and grants to our students in northern Thailand, Alyson, Barbara and Janice performed at their usual tireless pace, and Tamla, Ta Ka Baw, Tommy, and Maw Htee Paw (our Mae Sot Study Grant Committee) made their decisions with continuing care and concern. We also thank David and Barbara Shirley, and Judy Noyes who continued to look after their students with care. Finally we give hearty thanks to all of you without whom none of this would have been possible.

Activities:

  • Mar. 9 Arrived home just after a big snow storm (Thanks to Alan our neighbor for plowing the driveway. I would nor have enjoyed bringing our bags through 3 feet of snow.)
  • Mar. 10 to 30 Settling in and preparing for our Trustee Meeting.
  • Apr. 2 Trustee Meeting by Skype conference call including Alabama, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Brazil. (All free; isn't technology wonderful?)
  • Apr. 4 to present fundraising, setting up bank transfers, accounts and paying projects and students, writing Annual Report

As I prepare this enote, we have been hearing about flooding, tornados, and other major weather hazards. I certainly hope all of you have survived this season with your property and your families intact.

My Best Wishes to all of you,

 

Your day is not finished until you've done someone a favor.

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