Celebrating International Women’s day with a local non-profit

In Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia, girls from poor families have little or no opportunity for education
By Juliana Thong, Global Washington | Feb 17, 2013

Edmonds couple Bill and Pat Taylor weren’t expecting a holiday to Bali in 2005 to lead to saving the futures of hundreds of children.

They visited an orphanage of 65 girls in Indonesia and ended up sponsoring two of them.

After a return trip a year later, the Taylors sought out sponsors for the other children, calling on friends to get involved.

A few years and 23 sponsors later, the two realized there was still more they could do and founded the Bill & Pat Bali Fund with a mission to break the cycle of poverty in Indonesia.

Their latest and largest initiative, the SE Asia Children’s Foundation, was created in 2010 to fund even more orphanages throughout the region. They currently have seven ongoing projects in Thailand, with plans to expand to Cambodia.

The SE Asia Children’s Foundation works to eliminate poverty in Southeast Asia by empowering women, children, and especially girls.

They support orphanages and childcare facilities by emphasizing education for girls and by providing administrative training and other resources.

In addition to matching girls with sponsors, the Foundation might provide an orphanage food, vocational training, a bus, a new dormitory, a well, water purification, or a new information system.

Bill utilizes his expertise as a retired management consultant through a “Coaching for Sustainability” program, which increases the partners’ administrative skills, with a focus on clearly articulated, measurable goals.

Bill and Pat Taylor believe that empowering and educating girls is one of the most--if not the most--effective way to eliminate poverty.

President Barack Obama agrees; he recently issued a memo stating, “Promoting gender equality and advancing the status of all women and girls around the world remains one of the greatest unmet challenges of our time, and one that is vital to achieving our overall foreign policy objectives...[and] increases broader economic prosperity, as well as political stability and security.”

In Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia, girls from poor families have little or no opportunity for education. They are often relegated to a life of poverty, early marriage, multiple children at an early age, health problems, and husbands with little ability support the family.

Bill Taylor strongly believes that funding alone is not enough but that “the value of money can be greatly enhanced by showing up, in person, on the ground, and working on site.”

The Taylors hand-pick facilities to support; they understand the importance of strong partnerships in order accomplish big things.

Bill spends much of the year in Thailand and has personal relationships with the leaders and children, maximizing communication and attention to needs.

He knows where the money is being used and insists it directly benefit the children. Over 90 percent of funds the Foundation raises go directly to the field to serve the children.

As Bill Taylor said, “With an education however, girls gain control over their bodies, marry later, marry better, have fewer children, have fewer health issues for themselves and their children, and direct the available family resources (to which they contribute meaningfully) to the support and betterment of the family -- including educating their children.

“And, that is just the impact on the immediate family. Educated women also contribute meaningfully to the village as well.”

March 8 is International Women’s Day.

Let us celebrate the women in our lives and the potential of all girls to become strong, upstanding women.

Support your local non-profit organization, SE Asia Children’s Foundation, which contributes to the global advancement of women and children daily.

They are currently in need of volunteers (specifically with social networking and fundraising) and are always accepting donations.

To learn more about this wonderful organization, how you can help, and who to contact visit: http://www.asiachildrensfoundation.org.

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