by Melissa Nau
A humble humanitarian organization in Woodstock is fighting for change on a world-wide scale. In 2011 Evelyne Pouget founded One Voice For Laos and gathered a group of volunteers, hoping to improve the living conditions of orphans in one of Southeast Asia’s poorest countries. Today, every single one of the group’s five specific goals have been met, including raising over $15,000 to support the 600 orphans in the Deak Kum Pa orphanage in Luang, Prabang, Laos, traveling there to offer hands-on service to the community, and creating a documentary of the experience. The men, women, and teens used the funds they raised to bring the orphans on field trips, teach English, and personally provide them with fresh food. But the achievements of One Voice did not stop there.
The organization’s expectations were exceeded. As the teens taught, they learned just as much from the children about the customs and language of Laos. In addition, the group had a goal to paint a mural on one wall of the orphanage, which quickly escalated into decorating the entire room. At one point, orphans and volunteers alike filled the entire room, eager to work and contribute to the project. The Laos trip succeeded in improving life for those in need, and building futures for the orphans and our young Hudson humanitarians.
The fundraising and the journey to Laos itself was made possible by hundreds of local teenagers in the Hudson Valley area. High school students organized numerous events to raise money including art auctions, dance parties, entertainment shows, and poker nights. Teens were eager to donate to such a worthy cause.
Continuing to rise above and beyond their original goals, the organization is now known as One Voice Global—extending their services to places around the globe. Their most recent feat includes sending two teens to Casa de Los Ángeles, a day care center in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Casa de Los Ángeles is creating a safe environment for children, where they are respected, loved, and cared for. The two teenagers who volunteered in Mexico, Mimi Ditkoff and Grace Miller, shared their experiences at an event in Woodstock where donations were welcome. The Mexico trip was also an opportunity for One Voice Global to look into Casa Hogar Don Bosco, another orphanage they are interested in supporting.