Posted on Jan 04, 2022
The babies have stopped dying. That is one stark impact over the past 12 years of Adopt-A-Village Laos (AAVIL), which Rotary Club of Ladner and some of its members have supported since 2014, along with RC Coquitlam Sunrise and various Rotary clubs in Ontario where the program began.
President of Adopt a Village in Laos, Steve Rutledge, is a member of the Rotary Club of Whitby Sunrise, in Whitby, Ontario. Retired after 22 years as co-owner of a medium-sized computer firm, Steve has devoted himself to this program and many other causes in his community and beyond. Steve's sister, Dawn Rutledge Brennen, is a Ladner Rotarian. Returning to virtual format for its club meetings, Ladner Rotary received his update on AAVIL on January 4, 2022.
Now in its 13th year, AAVIL’s focus started with improving education in remote villages of northern Laos, with schools and equipment. When it turned out that many children could not make it to school because of illness from the contaminated water supply, the focus shifted to include safe water supply with a water filter and hygiene training to each family.  In some cases permanent water supplies have included a dam and several km of pipe (or a well is drilled depending on the area), plus a water tank and taps throughout the village. 
Over time, many Rotarians and Rotary clubs, have sponsored distribution of 6,700 water filters which have improved the health of 34,000 people. So far in this 2021-22 year AAVIL has distributed 285 more water filters with the aim of almost 600 later this year.

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With clean, potable water the lifespan among the villages of northern Laos, reached by AAVIL, has increased. Classrooms are full of children now, when they only used to be less than half full, and teachers are more interested and satisfied that they can teach full classes.

Without diarrhea caused by water borne bacteria, farmers are more productive and less of a burden on the health system because they can tend to their fields of rice. Women and children are not having to spend time collecting water from remote locations when possible.
There is more disposable income leading to better quality homes, even the occasional ice cream cone for a child, not affordable in the past.
Ladner Rotarian Dawn Rutledge Brennen, sister of Steve Rutledge, with husband Beau