Big Brother Mouse

Here is the content of an email that I received at work from a lovely lady that I work with. I asked if I could use it on here. She was pleased and if anyone wants to donate some money, contact me via email and I can give you details of a bank account to use, or you can donate directly to the Big Brother Mouse website.

As you may know, I am shortly going to Laos for a couple of weeks. My friend who I am travelling with has been to Laos several times and has told me about a wonderful programme that supplies books to Laos children called “Big Brother Mouse“. This is a Lao-based (in Luang Prabang), Lao-owned project which designs and produces educational & fun books for kids, most of whom have neven seen or owned a book.

Big Brother Mouse relies on donations to raise funds to sponsor book parties (at a cost of between $250 – $400 US) and you can see more info on what happens at book parties on their website. Laos volunteers then go into a rural village and hold a book party at a village school. The group talks to the kids about books, play games and then allows each of the kids (anywhere between 80 and 250) to select a book of their own to keep. They then leave about 50 other books for the teacher to begin a library.

When my friend visted Luang Prabang last year she bought some books from Big Brother Mouse, went to a local village on a trek, took her little bundle of books which cost a whole $11. The head man was summoned and they had a formal presentation of the books, followed by a wonderful lunch of simple local food.

Anyway, what I am getting around to asking is this – would you consider assisting me in raising enough funds for a book party as I would like to try and raise some funds to help this worthy cause. When I visit Laos in July I would love to be able to present some funds to Big Brother Mouse for a book party or two. For only $20, or $10 if you’re broke, we can provide enough money to give a lot of joy to a lot of kids.

Unfortunately we will be visiting in the ‘wet season’ and Big Brother Mouse won’t be able to organise a book party while we are there but we are giving them a digital camera and they have said they will send us photos of the book party they arrange with our donations so we can share the photos with all those who have donated funds.

I know its late notice as I leave on 1st July but I would appreciate any help you can give and thank you for taking the time to read my email.

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20 Responses

  1. That’s a wonderful story Reb. One thing that I used to do when I was teaching at Burnley PS and many of these children were latch-key was make your own book..a favorite was a feather book. The kids would collect feathers and then write stories. A favorite of mine was ‘the blue bird’..I didn’t have the heart to tell the children that the magical feather that they had found was from a feather-duster.

  2. Whoops sorry..joni.

  3. I didn’t have the heart to tell the children that the magical feather that they had found was from a feather-duster.

    I’m glad you didn’t. It’s like the parable of the chalk dot. Draw a chalk dot on a blackboard. Ask an average classroom of primary children what it is, and receive more than thirty answers. Ask an average classroom of high school children what it is, and receive a handful of answers. Ask an average room of adults what it is, and be told it’s just a chalk dot.

    Meanwhile, once upon a time in a former life in the Land of Serendip, I was allowed to borrow the happy snaps of some acquaintances who had travelled through Laos. The thing that amazed me was all the things that salvaged bomb-casings could be (they were everywhere throughout two albums’ worth of photos and in the most creative surreal of places and uses). My favourite was a rusted-through bomb-casing being used as a pot-plant container for marigolds.

  4. Legion..how true, it’s about using what one has got. Just about the only resources that we had at Burnley Primary were feathers and leaves collected from the playground. The children also brought in pieces of wool and I collected cardboard cones from the old woollen mill in Hawthorn.

    The imagination from these kids was amazing because they were not influenced about what was expected, just came up with things spontaneously.

  5. The thing that amazed me was all the things that salvaged bomb-casings could be (they were everywhere throughout two albums’ worth of photos and in the most creative surreal of places and uses).

    Probably not the same thing, Legion, but a friend of mine is a keen collector of WW1 “Trench Art“.

  6. A telling parable Legion.

  7. Hi Joni, excellent idea. there should be a lot more of it

    I have spent close to a year in total in Luang Prabang during the past five years and love it. I miss the people and place. It’s my favourite place in South East Asia to visit, or, live in.

    You are in for a treat in. Beautiful scenery and architecture. Friendly humble people. Still mostly unspolit. Lots of boutique hotels along the Mekong. Twilight cocktails. Fine French food. Interesting bunch of travellers to meet. Lots of temples, Monks receiving alms everywhere each morning. A cycle friendly place with easy access to the surrounding countryside …

    The night markets are packed with amazing crafts and silverware, a Laos speciality. The postal service is run by good buddhists, they don’t steal, just make sure you use the actual post office itself – at one end of the main st near the night food market – not agents, and all the stuff you buy will get home.

    I donated books when visiting in October last year. If any Blogocrats readers work in a library or school, we could perhaps organise a serious shipment. A container load? Either way, I am happy to help with your good works

    Good news: it’s not usually too wet in July.

    How long do you have on the ground in Luang Prabang?

  8. D’oh, Joni, only now have I clocked that it’s not you going.

    Anyway, the recommendations stand.

  9. The question on everyones lips is “will the humidity in conjunction with reb’s polyester suits cause crotchrot & other rashes”?

  10. I donated books when visiting in October last year. If any Blogocrats readers work in a library or school, we could perhaps organise a serious shipment. A container load? Either way, I am happy to help with your good works

    A fine idea. I also liked BBM’s idea of producing books in the indigenous language, some based on indigenous stories more usually told orally or through picture or through dance, and with a view to having some of those texts translated into English, perhaps to extend the ambit of that cultural exchange outwards from Laos and back into the wider world. In some ways, it reminded me of works undertaken here in Australia to enliven existing culture in new media and to span the (ex)changes within and across cultures.

    The question on everyones lips is “will the humidity in conjunction with reb’s polyester suits cause crotchrot & other rashes”?

    The answer is “no, just no”; and that’s an answer arrived at before even entertaining the question. 😉

  11. Excuse me Dunny Lord, but it is not I that owns the polyester suits. My suits are all made from the highest quality natural fibres.

  12. Coincidentally I will be travelling to Luang Prabang in October and will spend 3 or 4 nights there.

    Thanks Ray Hunt for the info and recommendations. I haven’t been before and don’t know anything about the place, but after reading about your experience I am quite excited now.

    And if I find out that BBM is just some sort of rip-off scheme I will personally bludgeon the “kind old woman” to death on behalf of youse all.

  13. “My suits are all made from the highest quality natural fibres.”

    Hemp?

  14. Linen and Wool Scaper.

    It’s not ToiletBoss we’re talking about here…

  15. Oh, I must of missed something when I stayed at the Hilton last night, bought a new laptop with wireless but left it at home.

    It sounds like the Boss partakes in the wacky baccie…doesn’t more than half the population born from 1950?

  16. “partakes?”

    *cough* *cough*

    More like keeps the entire bloody industry alive…!

  17. Really?

    The dastardly dog grows funny looking plants behind the laundry every summer, I’m starting to catch on now!

    I thought when he sits on the front deck every late afternoon watching the sunset with his sunnies on it was an eye problem.

  18. Let me guess…

    You didn’t also notice dastardly doggy gagging back copious doggy snacks later on in the evening neither?

  19. I keep the cookie jar out of his reach but I’ve noticed that all the cats in the area have disappeared…the plot thickens.

    I might have a drug crazed cat eating dog on my hands…is there a canine rehab centre out there to put him on the straight and narrow?

  20. Hi Reb. Think small provincial French town, population just 45,000, with strong Chinese and Indian influences.

    Think the Tassie of South East Asia. Laos has a population of just 7 million and around 90% of this lush beautiful land is forested.

    The New York Times named Luang Prabang the 2008 best tourist destination in the world so it’s good you will see the place before it is completely over-run by tourism … Its World Heritage site listing at least protects the architectural heritage in the historic old section of town.

    Laos is one of the poorest countries outside Africa, so the income from tourism is welcome.

    Laos also has the dubious honour of being the most bombed place in human history, thanks to its role in the Viet Nam war. Local people still get killed every week salvaging live munitions to sell the scrap metal. Their response to being ‘bombed back into the stone age?’ Well, the Laotian government does charge Americans $20 more for a visa but, beyond that, I’ve never heard or seen any locals hassle anyone, least of all our American friends.

    Be sure to try the local Mekong whiskey. You can buy the seriously potent stuff at the night markets. You can easily tell the top-shelf bottles, they are the ones with baby cobras in them …

    Excitable tuk tuk drivers get really serious as they play petanque (French bowls) in the afternoon, along the river in front of dozens of food bars that serve great cocktails all night long! Five star silver-served French food? Plenty of that, for the princely sum of about $A10 a main course. Good French wine is readily available …

    Make sure you get out into the country. If you’ve got some time, you can visit the northern town of Luang Nam Tha. Hill tribe country – formerly the centre of operations for the CIA’s notorious Air America – it’s surrounded by an amazing wildlife reserve with tigers, leopards, gibbons, elephants, etc. Walking, rafting, cycling and eco-action holidays galore. And there’s an a really interesting morning hill tribe market and the border with China’s Yunnan province just to the north.

    Entering or leaving Luang Prabang via an uncomfortable two-day boat trip up the Mekong River to Chang Mai in Thailand, is a scenic travel option. In colonial times, the trip to Luang Prabang up the Mekong from Saigon took longer than the voyage from France to Viet Nan.

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