Barbara Seagram and Patti Lee (along with generous donations from their bridge club members, players and friends received from fundraisers) enable many less fortunate to have BETTER lives!
Please help us in our mission.
Patti and Barbara will take turns going to Laos and Cambodia each year to oversee our projects and to teach while there.
See below to learn more about our fundraising efforts.
Cambodia: In 2011, Patti Lee, Barbara Seagram and a group of 50, docked in Phnom Penh. We were armed with clothing, pens, notebooks, rulers, sharpeners, toys, pencils, stickers, and other school supplies. We had heard about an Ontario resident, Lisa McCoy, who had dedicated the last few years to working in Cambodia for several months per year. Working alongside Lisa was a fabulous lady, Australian Pauline Johns. Currently, Pauline is living in Cambodia for 6 - 8 months per year and heads up the Cambodian organization ‘Banyan Tree Organization’, which manages all of our projects in Cambodia. Pauline volunteers all of her time and pays for all of her travel and living.
In 2011, our group and other friends from the Toronto area donated 40 bicycles to a school outside of Phnom Penh. We went there in a small tuk-tuk along the dusty roads through Phnom Penh and out into the countryside to find that the school was a one-room shack with a cement floor and no desks or chairs. The bikes were given to children, mainly children of landmine victims. It was all very uplifting but Patti and Barbara looked at each other and wondered how long this shack would remain standing.
We inquired how much it would cost to build a permanent school and found that it would cost $24,000.00 We returned to Toronto determined to build a school. We raised $40,000.00 that year, so we also furnished two other schools and built a library at one of the schools. Since then, a fourth school has been added; we now have over 500 students in our schools—and we remain committed to sustaining all FOUR schools at a cost of $25,000 CDN per year. This pays for the salaries of the teachers and librarians, all of the supplies for the teachers and students, lease payments, electricity, maintenance etc. You can see that money goes a long way in this country.
Over the years, many outreach programs have been undertaken to help these landmine affected families to become self-sufficient: a bike repair business, chicken farmer training, sewing lessons with a sewing machine, crafts, a technology centre, and a weaving centre.
Did You Know?
Barbara was in Cambodia for 10 days in February 2015
She visited all the schools and taught English while there!
All the school children are looking forward to her return.
There is also a huge need in the remote villages for medical help. Many never see a doctor: they do not have a doctor and cannot afford to travel to one. Malaria and tuberculosis continue to plague the remote villages. We need to educate throughout rural areas regarding the need for sanitation, aiding in the prevention and transmission of diseases. We need to work to ensure the health of mothers during pregnancy and childbirth.
Our focus is to make sure that our students and villagers have:
- Access to safe water. This is a fundamental human need and a basic human right. In some cases, this may be as simple as teaching them the necessity of boiling water.
- Access to health care and education regarding health / sanitation matters.
- Transportation, as appropriate, to clinics in cities for dental, eye, and other medical needs.
There are many that do not have a safe, private toilet. The absence of a safe, private toilet leads to serious health issues, as well as sexual abuse of women and girls. Our schools all have toilets, thus ensuring that the girls can attend school even during their menstrual period. Without toilets at the schools, the girls would miss many days a month of school and often do not return once this has happened a few times.
Current and Planned Projects:
- A fifth school will be built this Fall, ready for the students by early December.
- We are sponsoring one of our students to start university in August, 2017. A second student will start University in August, 2019. These are both 3-year commitments, which include tuition, books, and living expenses.
- We are sponsoring one of our teachers to take additional university courses in English on a part-time basis over the next year.
- We are planning to install 5 toilets over the next year for 5 families in the villages near our schools.
UPDATE: Nov. 2017 - Family to Receive Toilet
BTO will provide a bathroom/toilet at the home of farmer Soem Thorn, who lives with his wife, khun Sithon and their 5 children in Angtasom, Takev. A further 9 families in Takeo and Kampot will benefit from this project in the coming weeks.Continued...
20171019 - UPDATE:
More Students Heading to University
Some of our students will be going to University next year. They're making good use of Am Pov's weekend computer classes. Continued...
20171004 - UPDATE:
Construction for the new fifth school commenced this week in TaProm Village, Kampot Province. Savin has been teaching some students in his spare time. They’re very excited to soon have a new classroom and library for their studies.
SreyLin is our first scholarship student. With thanks to the support from Patti Lee and Barbara Seagram she is able to live in Phnom Penh and study at Pannasatra University. Continued...
Patti and Barbara are excited and optimistic about all of these projects and the fundraisers that we do every year. If you are unable to attend one of our fundraisers, but still wish to make a donation, we would be so grateful. Barbara and Patti are an Agency of a charity in Canada; as well, they have formed an alliance with a charity in the USA. As a result, all Canadian and USA donors can receive tax receipts, valid for their own country.
THANK YOU to Jan and Phil and to all those who attended Barbara's bridge class held in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (February 2017).
We raised $9,500.00 USD for Cambodia!!!. VERY exciting and the $$ will go a long way to help so many people.
THANK YOU... To all our Cambodia supporters!
Our annual Cambodia fundraiser took place on Fri 29 April 2016 and to date we have raised $33,556.00!! A big thank you from Patti and I for your incredible generosity! It costs us $20,000.00 per year to sustain our four schools. In addition, we also have outreach programs for landmine survivors and their families. It is also important that we build a "war chest" so that our schools can be sustained for some years after we are no longer able to do fundraising.
Our thanks to John Rayner for entertaining us and teaching us so that by this time next year, we will all be ready to represent our country!
Our thanks also to Enid Roitman who is our right arm at all times. She is so organized and her attention to detail is legendary.
So many of you helped but special thanks also to Ann Katz who came at the crack of dawn and helped us so much with set-up and put away.
A huge thank you to the merchants and to so many of you who donated items for the silent auction. Our premier item was the Farmhouse in France owned by Sally Moore. Sally has generously donated a week at this wonderful farmhouse year after year for our auction. It was purchased for $2,500.00 so you can imagine that we are delighted!
Congratulations to the winners of the game that afternoon. This was a sectionally rated championship event (as are all our fundraisers).
- Helen Wiber and Magdi Barsoum came first overall and won 7.31 master points!! WOW!!
- Peggy Sinclair and Janet Dunfield came second overall and won 5.48 master points!
- Shirley Towers and Barry Spinner were third overall winning 4.11 points and Holly Kee and Marg Roberts were fourth overall and won 3.48 points.
Our 4th Annual Cambodia Fundraiser raised $5,233.00. We are really pleased.
Thanks to Linda Harrison, who never stopped for a moment and was unflappable as always. She is amazing and is such an excellent volunteer.
Our thanks as well to Carolyn and Karen, who were also wonderful. Thank you too to all those who donated to our Silent Auction and those that made the bids!
Approximately 100 people attended which was an excellent turnout. All proceeds go to our four schools in Cambodia.
Thank you so much to all of you who supported our fundraiser on Friday May 1st, 2015. There were many who were unable to attend but generously donated to our cause anyway. We are so very grateful to all of you.
Thank you also to Enid Roitman who is always there to help. Her organizational skills are legendary and there is no project too daunting for her.
Thank you also to John Rayner who gave us all a fabulous presentation on hand evaluation, bidding and defence. He is outstanding.
Thank you to all of our sponsors, who donated such amazing things for our silent auction. Please see the list of their names on our websites and please support them. They really deserve all of our support.
One more thank you: A huge thank you to Habonim Synagogue for donating the space for our fundraiser. Habonim does such good work in the community and we are so grateful to them.
We raised over $31,000.00! That is an amazing number and we are over the moon about it! In our very first year, we raised $8,800.00. Last year: $22,000.00 and the figure this year is staggering! We do need it as we have many projects ahead of us in Cambodia; these funds will be put to very good use helping us to ensure that the mothers, infants, and children receive the health care that they need and the education we would all wish for!
We cannot thank you enough, all of you.
Those who attended, we hope you enjoyed the event as much as we did.
Barbara Seagram & Patti Lee
Please visit the Banyan Tree Organization website (www.banyanlearningtree.org).
Congratulations to the Winners of the Game:
Close scores! Remember, just an overtrick can make the difference!
- 1st overall out of 57 pairs! Joyce Cram and Paul Rolfe 65.28%
- 2nd Overall: Jill Thompson and John Rayner 64.57%
- 3rd Overall: Sharmeen Khazzam & Lee Daugharty 63.19%
Toronto, Gravenhurst and other communities in Canada have been incredibly generous in supporting our projects in Cambodia. These include supplies, overhead costs and staffing of four schools and two libraries. We now have 580 students in these 4 schools. The libraries are the only source of books in these remote villages. We have now recognized that there is an enormous need for a Family Health Clinic in Takeo province, where some of our schools are located. Most of these families never see a doctor and some things that could be rectified go undetected until it is too late.
Barbara Seagram & Patti Lee, along with players from all over Ontario, raised money in 2012 to build a school in Cambodia, ½ hr out of Phnom Penh.
With extra funds raised, they also built a library at another school.
They also furnished three schools, supplied electricity to another and provided books and computers to a current total of four schools. Two of the schools are in very remote villages.
They are committed to sustaining four schools in Cambodia over the next many years.
Lisa and Pauline, who are Board Members of AMFW and Founders & Operators of BLT, conduct the work of these organizations.
It costs approximately $17,000.00 a year to sustain these schools and libraries.
Please visit the Banyan Tree Organization website (www.banyanlearningtree.org).
Thanks to all who supported our recent Cambodian fundraisers held at our Out of Town Seminars!
- Our 3rd Annual Cambodia Fundraiser in Gravenhurst on October 2, 2014 raised $7,200.00. GREAT work by Linda Harrison and her team, Carolyne and Kelly.
- On August 15, 2014 Barbara taught a class to the Haliburton Bridge Community, after which they all played bridge. They raised $1,500 for our Cambodian Schools!
- $2000.00 raised at
on July 1
- $500.00 raised at
Bridgewater Bridge Club
on July 9
Thank YOU! - July 3, 2014
WOW!!!! WHAT A FUND RAISER!!!! OVER $22,000 Raised
Barbara Seagram & Patti Lee wish to thank all of the attendees, donors, sponsors, and all of those, who bid on the Silent Auction at our Cambodian fundrasier held on June 19, 2014.
The Silent Auction bidding began almost a week before the event, with Patti taking bids by phone and email. The excitement rose as we got closer to the event.
The attendees seemed to love the day itself. Barbara taught a lesson on "doubles" and Patti made a presentation on Cambodia and where the money is being spent. A bridge game in the afternoon with prizes and of course, lots of coffee, a nice lunch, sweets and fruit, and door prizes for at least half of the attendees rounded out the day.
Our special thanks to Enid Roitman for all of her help before the event and all day on June 19th. She makes it all look so easy. As well thanks to Cathy Hogg, who helped us that day, and to Mirko and his staff for the wonderful food.
And most of all, thanks to you for your wonderful support. It all happens because of you!
Barbara, Patti, and the children of Cambodia are so appreciative.
Every dime raised on June 19th will go to our 4 schools that we sustain in Cambodia AND towards the building of the FAMILY HEALTH CLINIC, a first line of medical support for local families that dont have a doctor nor can they travel to one.
Thank you everyone for your generous support. We raised $2,440 with this draw which was held Jan. 13th.
The money (every dime) goes to our Cambodia schools.
Patti and Barbara hoped to raise $1,500.00. We only dreamed about making $2,000.00... and we have EXCEEDED our wildest expectations with this total of $2,440.00. We are thrilled!
The real winners are our schools and the children. But the winners of the draw are:
- Ballet Tickets to Onegin: Maggie Nebout
Donated by Patti Lee
- Original Framed Watercolour: Mitchell Picariello
Donated by John Verkaik
- Defence Course: Betsy Bertram
Donated by Barbara Seagram
- $150 Ceramic Flat Iron: Libby Hall
Donated by Joe of Salon Allure
- Barbara's Bridge Books and Software: Libby Burton
Donated by Barbara Seagram
- $50.00 Gift Certificate to Salon Allure: Judi Fenton
Donated by Joe of Salon Allure
Niagara Falls Regional Tournament
Thanks to all who participated in the "Take More Tricks... Improve Your Delcarer Play" fundraising seminar for Cambodia by Barbara Seagram.
All money raised (every dime) goes directly to Banyan Learning Tree schools in Cambodia. These schools are built and sustained by Barbara Seagram, Patti Lee and the bridge community of Toronto and beyond!
Successful 2nd Annual Fundraising Bridge Seminar & Luncheon
A fun day of bridge with Bridge Masters Barbara Seagram & Patti Lee was held on September 26, 2013 in Gravenhurst, which included door prizes and silent auction! Thanks to the participants, $4,257.00 was raised at this event!
In the first of its kind for Granvenhurst, a Seminar and Bridge Game fundraiser held in September 2012, raised a GRAND total of $4,369!
Laos is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia. It is at least 20 years behind all the other countries of that region.
From 1964 to 1973, the U.S. dropped more than two million tons of ordnance on Laos during 580,000 bombing missions - equal to a planeload of bombs every 8 minutes, 24-hours a day, for 9 years - making Laos the most heavily bombed country per capita in history. The bombings were part of the U.S. Secret War in Laos to support the Royal Lao Government against the Pathet Lao (Communist) and to interfere with traffic along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The bombings destroyed many
villages and displaced hundreds of thousands of Lao civilians during the nine-year period.
Steve Rutledge from Port Hope, founder of Adopt a Village in Laos, is a volunteer on the ground in Laos for six months of each year, (paying his own airfare, accommodation and meals) has accomplished ALOT over the past few years: CONTINUED...
Barbara Seagram & Patti Lee visited Laos for the first time in 2012. The remote villages of Laos have never recovered from the 'Secret' war of the 1960s. Laos has the dubious distinction of being the most bombed country, per capita, in history. While rich in culture and tradition, their education, healthcare and hygiene conditions are severely lacking.
The average lifespan is only 56 years and average age is only 20.8, caused by poor quality water, poor hygiene and general poverty. BUT with your help we have already made a difference in the lives of thousands of villagers.
Steve Rutledge is a volunteer on the ground in Laos six months of the year. He is from Port Hope and has received many humanitarian awards for his work in Laos. He pays all
his own airfare, accommodation and meals while travelling to and from Laos. Here are some of his accomplishments to date:
- He has built 7 schools
- He has brought water to three villages (imagine having to climb down a 2000 ft. drop to get water! Now these villagers have a water source right in their village)
- Made huge improvements to a hospital (which services many surrounding villages) including putting water into the hospital. Imagine a hospital with no water!
- He has built toilets in 10 villages
- He has installed over 1175 water filter systems, each one serving an average family of 5-8.
- He has sponsored 19 primary school kids for school who could not otherwise have attended.
- He has sponsored four University students and continues to do so.
There are many other projects that he is involved in: i.e. building fences around compounds to keep the oxen out, furnishing a huge education centre (where they train teachers), bought 52 bicycles for school kids, installed solar lighting in several villages etc.
Over this upcoming year, he will be building a three room school and putting on two school additions. He will install another 800 water filters at least.
Barbara & Patti's big thrust is for water filters for the villages of Laos. Each one costs $115.00 CAN
or $90.00 USD.
To receive a filter, they must take a basic hygiene & sanitation course from Steve.
When one village was asked how many people had dysentery (diarrhea) in the past year, 300 hands (all) went up. Six months later, after the water filters were installed, 2 hands went up.
LAOS FUNDRAISER - Thank You
Thank you one and all for your support of our Laos project. Thanks to the support of so many of you in Toronto, Collingwood and beyond, we have raised $12,093.00 to date for our water filter project in Laos at our fundraiser, June 7, 2016. Some of the cost included in the price of a water filter is the need to transport these water filters by trucks over mountainous terrain into the remote villages in Laos.
This means that we have purchased just over 94 water filters. 94 families (approximately 650 people) will now have clean water for the first time in their lives, thanks to all of you. Each family typically consists of 6-8 people, often three generations living in one small home.
Our thanks to Steve Rutledge, our guest speaker and is our amazing volunteer on the ground in Laos and Lee Daugharty for his support of this event!
The bridge community of Toronto (That's YOU!!!) has helped to raise funds over the past few years for HUNDREDS of water filters for remote villages in Laos.
To get a real sense of what goes on in a village on a daily basis, one of our volunteers, Massimo, who comes each year from Italy to help on the ground, produced this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1GQ4r19j_4 Do hope you can take the time to watch this.
Here is our volunteer on the ground, Steve Rutledge, who created Adopt A Village in Laos. This is a shot of a typical water filter distribution day where Steve is showing the villagers how the water filter works. These water filters will last at least 25 years and only need to be cleaned once a month or so by using a soft brush or cloth to clean the inside of the filter. Also in the picture is his wonderful assistant, Siphan, who is from Laos and carries on the work for Steve when he is not there.
In another video, watch Steve educating the recipients receiving a water filter:
A Hygiene Lesson Laos March 2016. (Steve speaks english in the video)
Thank you to all our supporters who on June 9, 2015, attended the Laos Water Filter Seminar!
Together We Are Making a Difference!! We are VERY pleased!
The fundraiser for Laos this year raised $9,564.00 for water filters. That is the equivalent of clean water for 20 years for 100 families. Since 2012, this fundraiser has provided 500 water filters for 500 families. While most of us have never been without clean water, the impact of this contribution to these families is life changing. Thank you for your generosity. So little from us means so much to them", says Lee Daugharty.
All monies raised (every dime) goes to the cause. There are no administration fees. All volunteers pay their own airfare, accommodation and meals.
If you would like to help, send your donation (made out to Adopt a Village in Laos) to Barbara Seagram, 220 Lawrence Ave East, Toronto ON M4N 1T2, Canada. $115.00 Can or $90.00 USD buys a water filter for a family. Thank you one and all for your support.
A very special thank you to Lee Daugharty who is not only ran the game, but also donated $3.00pp of his own towards the cause!
UPDATE: 20150212Barbara brought in a young man from a village 10 hours away (he came by motorcycle all that way!) to be our guide for 8 days. Patti and I had met him 3 years ago. Khamkeo was a student at University then and now teaches in his very remote village. He is teaching us Lao and we are teaching him English and other skills.
Barbara in Laos!
Leslie and I taught a couple of English and basic arithmetic classes at the school we visited. We take inflatable globes to all the schools and point out Canada and USA and that the world really is round. The children respond well and are excited about the loot bags that we hand out everywhere with rulers, erasers, pens, pencils, toothbrushes and toothpaste that we buy in Laos to help the locals. They are the most beautiful children. View Blog
Thanks to the participants who attended our Laos Fundraiser held
on April 23, 2014. We raised $6,007 for 80 new water filters!
Also a BIG thank you to Lee Daugharty who donated $2/person!