Sunday, November 25, 2018

Another Journey of the Heart Upcoming

It has been more than a year since we have travelled to Vietnam and we are eagerly anticipating our next trip in February, 2019. Only a few more months before we again fly to SE Asia to be reunited with our family in Hoi An and to renew our relationships with the organizations with which we have worked for the past 12 years.

This past year has been an exciting one. We have become more closely associated with the Go Philanthropic Foundation, joining their Founder's Circle, attending Hub meetings in January in both Santa Fe and Denver as speakers on the subject of child trafficking, joining the annual community building event once again in Santa Fe and hosting a session here on Salt Spring Island with Linda DeWolf, a Go Phil founder. We introduced Go Phil and attendees were engaged in a lively discussion about responsible travel. Bruce has been appointed to their Board of Directors.

Journeys of the Heart has, over the years, been able, thanks to the generous donations of so many family members and friends to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged people, especially girls and women, the disabled and victims of Agent Orange and to fight child trafficking. Along the way we met two of the founders of Go Phil and realized that our purposes overlapped to some degree. Most importantly we knew that our own values aligned with those of Go Phil.

From the Go Phil website:

Our core values define our philanthropic strategy.

Our Guiding Principles

  • Those closest to the problems know the issues more deeply— we don’t have the answers, but we can assist in their discovery
  • "Capturing humanity and celebrating dignity” is our motto when visiting and sharing the powerful stories of people’s strength and courage
  • We respect and honor the importance of different cultures, traditions, philosophies and beliefs
  • Impact is not made in isolation–In order to combat the most difficult social issues of our time, we must actively work and learn together
  • ‘Listening and Learning’ is more effective than ‘Serving and Solving’
  • Philanthropy is not a one way transaction but instead a process by which people learn from one another, share resources and develop pathways to uncover their greatest potential
  • People are at their best when they do for themselves 

We met in July with the Founders, Board and Ambassadors of Go Phil and realized that we had a strong desire for deeper involvement. We also knew that our efforts when aligned with Go Phil would have greater impact and that we had much to learn about ethical, effective giving.


In addition, Journeys of the Heart, through our partneship with Go Phil will be able to continue and strengthen our work with Childrens Eduaction Foundation: (supporting girls from poor families to stay in school and grow to be women with choices) and with Blue Dragon Childrens Foundation: ( preventing child trafficking and rescuing victims). As you are probably aware all of the proceeds from the sale of Bruce's two books (Finding Lien and As the Lotus Blooms) are donated to Blue Dragon. 

So what does this mean for our faithful supporters of and donors to Journeys of the Heart? We hope that you will come along with us on our new journey of exploring, listening, learning and giving. The Go Phil website is a treasure chest of information not only of their current programs and travel opportunities but also videos and recommended reading references. 

We hope that you will continue to or begin to support our work.
  • You can make donations to Children's Education Foundation and Blue Dragon on-line through the Go Phil website and recieve a receipt. Please mention your connection to and friendship with Journeys of the Heart. 
  • You can send a cheque to Journeys of the Heart to support the disabled or victims of Agent Orange (as we are unregistered there are no tax receipts).
      Please mail cheques to:

       Journeys of the Heart
      #10-115 Upper Ganges Road
        Salt Spring Island, BC
        V8K 2Y3

 Join us!     Make a difference!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Same Journeys of the Heart : More Partners Along the Way

Since the inception of Journeys of the Heart ten years ago, when we chose the name for our charity, we hoped that it would symbolize the roads, both physical and emotional which we intended to follow in our effort to serve in SE Asia. We knew that we would spend lots of time on airplanes and hot, sweaty little busses on red dirt roads, stay in climates and conditions unfamiliar,  and learn much about the cultures of the countries that we visited, primarily Vietnam. We knew that our skills and knowledge, supported by generous donations from family and friends could, if matched to the right need/project/program/village, make a difference in the lives of people who have been marginalized.

The other journey that we have been on, is one of growing awareness of about how humanitarian contributions can be (despite the good intentions of workers and donors) ineffective or even harmful.  Happily, fate or luck rather than good management led us initially to find, ethical organizations and, like moths to a flame, we found ourselves networked with Reaching Out Vietnam, Childrens Education Foundation and Blue Dragon Childrens Foundation, also both in Vietnam. Along the way we also encountered the founders of Go Philanthropic Foundation. Our mutual concerns in the areas of education, health and human rights (especially of women and children and most latterly the prevention of child trafficking) drew us towards 'Go Phil'. Our concerns were their concerns and in fact they also supported programs at Blue Dragon and CEF.  We liked the language that they used to describe what they did, and why they did it. We were impressed with the intelligence and huge hearts of its founders. We witnessed the power of networking, collaboration and sharing between organizations in tackling social issues in the developing world.

In my last blog I described how Bruce and I travelled to Santa Fe and Denver to speak about child sex trafficking at two of what Go Phil calls Hub meetings; gatherings of supporters, donors, travellers and folks interested in the topic of discussion. By the time we got back home we knew that we personally wanted to have a closer connection to Go Phil, We joined their Founders Circle.

Guiding Principles

  • Those closest to the problems know the issues more deeply— we don’t have the answers, but we can assist in their discovery
  • Capturing humanity and celebrating dignity is our motto when visiting and sharing the powerful stories of people’s strength and courage
  • We respect and honor the importance of different cultures, traditions, philosophies and beliefs
  • Impact is not made in isolation–In order to combat the most difficult social issues of our time, we must actively work and learn together
  • ‘Listening and Learning’ is more effective than ‘Serving and Solving’
  • Philanthropy is not a one way transaction but instead a process by which people learn from one another, share resources and develop pathways to uncover their greatest potential
  • People are at their best when they do for themselves

Now that our personal relationship with Go Phil was cemented we also sought ways to link Journeys of the Heart, our unregistered charity, to Go Phil. Not only were we working with two of the same organizations, but our values were closely aligned to their principles listed above. We knew that the work of Journeys of the Heart would be more effective, and be able to do more of the "right things" in collaboration with this larger, well-known foundation with an established presence in SE Asia.

  • We will continue to operate, communicate and solicit your support under the Journeys of the Heart banner,
  • You will see our blog posts, Facebook posts and e-mail communications under the JOTH banner
  • We will accept your donations and deliver/forward them to your designated program or project as we have always done
  • HOWEVER, donors now will also have the added convenience of choosing to contribute to Children's Education Foundation ( sponsoring girls' education, the library, bicycles or special programs) and also Blue Dragon Children's Foundation (preventing child trafficking, rescuing and rehabilitating victims ) through Go Philanthropic via their donor page. Please let Go Phil know that you are a Journeys of the Heart donor. They will send a tax receipt to you.
A note: Proceeds from the sales of our books go directly to Blue Dragon
In addition to be being a philanthropic foundation, Go Phil operates an ethical travel company. Check out the upcoming tours at These trips offer a unique opportunity to engage with and learn from our partners across the globe.

Speaking of travel......we will be hosting a Go Phil Hub gathering on Salt Spring Island on September 14th. Lynda DeWolf, one of the Go Philanthropic founders will join us. She will tell us about the foundation and travel company. We will follow with an informal discussion about responsible travel. An invitiation list will be going out soon. Let us know if we have missed you or if you have questions (about the Hub gathering or any of the news announced in this blog!)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Strengthening a Partnership

We have just returned from Santa Fe, New Mexico and Denver, Colorado, where we were hosted by the GoPhilanthropic Foundation at two of their "Hub" meetings where Bruce presented a talk about the scourge of child sex trafficking.

Linda DeWolf, one of the Co-founders of the foundation met us at the airport in Albuquerque, drove us to Santa Fe, housed us in her comfortable adobe house, squired us around her beautiful historic city, introduced us at the Hub meeting and then chauffeured us up to Denver for the Hub there.

On a chilly Sunday morning, we joined the Women's March to the plaza.

Linda DeWolf welcoming the participants to the Santa Fe Go Philanthropic "Hub"

Bruce engaging the Hub in the difficult discussion about child sex trafficking. 

Our association with GoPhilanthropic began in Vietnam about seven years ago when we met Lydia Dean another Co-founder of GoPhil. She was traveling in SE Asia with her family, but also with the purpose of vetting grassroots organizations as possible partners and recipients of Go Phil's monetary support.

Since that first meeting, Journeys of the Heart and GoPhil have worked together to support two organizations in Vietnam whose focus is on education and the human rights of children.... most  latterly, in the area of child sex trafficking.

Through the research for Bruce's book, Finding Lien, and the networking with NGO's in SE Asia, we have learned much about this woeful industry and have realized that there is greater hope of success in preventing trafficking through synergistic alliances with others. GoPhil promises to be a strong partner in this regard.

Please watch the video below, wherein Lydia Dean explains the GoPhil approach.

The link to GoPhil's website is:

This website is informative and easy to navigate.

The approach Go Phil takes in partnering with local, often grassroots organizations through financial assistance and strategic guidance until the agency is self-sustaining, is one that we endorse.

The Go Phil "Hubs" are groups of local supporters, sponsors, volunteers and travelers and those interested in learning more about global social issues. The "Hub" group in Denver, hosted by Amy Leonard, Go Phil Ambassador, was an eclectic gathering, which included, much to our delight, young people including a high school junior who is actively involved locally in preventing trafficking. Although our focus is SE Asia, we are all too aware that our own communities are not immune to this cruel practice.

Amy Leonard, Linda DeWolf, Elaine Head, Bruce Logan

Journeys of the Heart looks forward to building our relationship with Go Phil and other partners to combat child trafficking and its underlying causes of poverty and lack of education and awareness in developing countries. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Tugging at the Heart Strings

Every time we are able to deliver gifts, donated by dear friends, family, neighbours, colleagues and fellow travellers, we are again moved by their generosity, love and trust. We also now have a team of Vietnamese who are helpful with translating and guidance.

An event last week was typical of the astonishing teamwork. We attended a meeting at Reaching Out,  at the arts and crafts shop as well as the tea house. Members of USAID and a delegation of the Asia Pacific Subcommittee of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee visited as part of a Southeast Asia fact-finding trip.

As is often the case, the agenda was not exactly clear, but the RO team were ready and welcomed this group of VIP's with their usual aplomb. We had thought that they were simply seeking clarity about the social enterprise model which has been the foundation of RO's success and sustainability...a way for the disabled to learn marketable skills and earn a living in a society where advances on building access for the disabled are limited. But they concentrated instead on how they might influence the Vietnamese government. Although the laws are on the books they are far from being universally implemented. This was a good thing.

Early evening tea was served in the Tea House garden; a peaceful place to answer their questions.As always, time was short, there were too many questions and too many "spokespersons" but I believe that some seeds of awareness were planted in the minds and hearts of this delegation.

Another occasion last week on behalf of TOP, Tours of Peace, Vietnam Veterans tugged at the strings of our hearts. TOP has supported the Quang Nam home for the Aged for many years and it was our pleasure to deliver a good supply of medications to the centre for TOP. With the help of Vu Duc Anh in Saigon, who acquired and shipped the medicine to Hoi An, we delivered two huge cartons of necessary medicines. The Director was delighted.

Once again, our Grandson Sesame was along to help with translation. He has become a staunch supporter of our work and is growing into quite a statesman.

Sesame's presence allows us to have more in-depth conversations with our hosts and we are deepening the relationships that we have with them and the residents of this institution. Here we are getting to know Trung, a very caring young nurse. I also had a nice chat with my friend Huynh pictured above.

We spent time talking about our friend Ut who died last year at age 61 of liver cancer. She was a double amputee, having stepped on a landmine when she was 14 years old. Surprisingly we were invited to go to visit her graveside. This we did this morning, guided by Ut's granddaughter.

Bruce proudly wore his TOP cap as he paid homage to this brave lady. You may remember that during Ut's last painful months we, once again with Anh's help, were able to provide Ut with medicine to make her more comfortable. TOP trip participants loved UT and she, them.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Our Eleventh Journey of the Heart

In 11 years the city of Hoi An has grown beyond our wildest imaginings, with new hotels, neighbourhoods, roads, and eateries, springing up all over. Traffic is more frenzied, from haphazard and noisy, to simply crazy. But at her heart, she is the same town of lanterns, fishing boats, ancient buildings and wonderful food. There is evidence of more wealth but surprisingly little development in the way of social services. Poverty has not abated. Farmers, fishers, day labourers and villagers are struggling more than ever. And so we have once again rolled up our sleeves and begun to seek out ways to alleviate some of the pain of that poverty.  We could not do this without the generous funds given to us for our work, by friends, family and neighbours.

Our first stop, as always, was to Reaching Out, both the Arts and Crafts Shop and the Tea House. Each enterprise won an Award of Excellence from Trip Advisor for the past year. I was able to order the flags and brought them in my suitcase. Here you see me helping the staff at the Tea House hang their banner. They are all lovely young women and now manage the tea house and serve with silent elegance. Their speech and hearing impairments are no obstacle. I don't know who is more proud of their achievements, me, the management team or they themselves. It was quite a celebration!

Once again we had the distinct privilege of visiting the Kianh Foundation to deliver funds donated by
Salt Springers. The Kianh Foundation is a day school for disabled children. This well run, happy place has made miraculous progress, through therapy and education, enabling these kids to develop to their fullest potential. One young boy, now 10 years old, joined the day program at the age of 3. He could not sit up at that time. As we chatted on the breezeway, he came scooting by with the assistance of a walker, evidence of his determination and the dedication of his therapists. Families are encouraged to follow routines and therapies practiced at the centre.

We count ourselves very lucky to be able to visit, as the Foundation is staunchly protective of the children's privacy and ask that people interested in their work, research their website. Because we know the Director personally and work with other organizations dedicated to providing skills training for the disabled, we were invited for a quick visit during their Friday afternoon playtime and order a refreshing beverage at the small cafe run by the older kids.

The Kianh Foundation has the only wheelchair customization capability in the region and is able to adapt wheelchairs to tiny bodies, which can be adjusted as the child grows.

Thanks again friends, family and neighbours for contributing precious funds which make the lives of these severely disabled children more comfortable and give hope to their families.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Annual Appeal 2017

Off We Go Again!

Once again we are anticipating another trip to Vietnam. Although we do not depart until September 20th we are already thinking about shots, mosquito repellent, and the right clothes for both sunny, hot, humid weather and possible monsoon rains. 

Over the years we have seen some amazing progress in Vietnam, a developing economy, more advanced infrastructure and greater awareness about the environment. But sadly as the country moves full stride from a developing world to one of greater stability and wealth and as a strong middle class develops, the disenfranchised become more destitute. Greed and corruption lead to more severe problems. Child trafficking is on the rise, village people do not have access to education for their children and the number of people of disability does not diminish.

We are working with several organizations whose purpose is to prevent child trafficking and rescue children, both boys and girls who are lured into slavery in sweat shops, mines, the fishing industry, prostitution or as child brides.

  • Blue Dragon: Hanoi
  • Ethos: Northern Vietnam
  • Go Philanthropic: Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal
  • Children's Education Foundation, Vietnam
  • Vietnam Education Society:
The biggest change that we have seen over the last 18 months is the trend towards networking amongst the above organizations. We share information, stories, heartening rescue stories and developing relationships with police and authorities.

All the proceeds from Bruce' latest book, Finding Lien are being donated to these organizations.

There is so much work to be done and the costs of rescue and rehabilitation are high. 

We are also working with Ong Vang, a Vietnamese organization, dedicated to building new schools in ethnic villages high in the mountains of Vietnam.  This is the latest school facility that we have learned about and we are contributing to the financing of materials for the volunteer labourers. All these materials are hauled up the mountain by the young teams.

Poverty and lack of education are the most frequent reasons that children are trafficked, therefore providing schools and teachers and funds to sponsor education are critical. Children do not attend school for many reasons: distance to school by foot, lack of money to pay for uniforms, parental insistence that the children work on the land, disability and lack of accessibility in the school facility.

When we deliver gifts from an American sponsor to "her" student we can see the wonderful results. Van can now read Liz's letters in English. She knows all the names of her family members. Just look at the proud Grandma! This sponsorship is through Children's Education Foundation Vietnam. 

We are still working with the aged also and look forward to seeing our old friends at the Hoi An Home for the Aged. This home is also a beneficiary of fund raising that continues with our group of former Tours of Peace participants.

If you would like to support our work, please send a cheque to:

Journeys of the Heart
#10-115 Upper Ganges Road
Salt Spring Island, BC
V8K 2Y3

We are happy to deliver your gifts!

You may also choose to donate directly to any of the organizations listed above.

Thank You!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

From One School District to Another Far Away

Our friend Lydia Dean (founder of GoPhilanthropic, a successful philanthropic travel organization and charitable foundation) told us some years ago "It is all a matter of connecting the dots." I think she says the same thing in her memoir, Jumping the Picket Fence, when discussing getting things done in developing countries by supporting local, grassroots organizations. If one invests the time for deep listening to ascertain core values, operational integrity and current and longer-term needs, one discovers the most appropriate and engaging ways to encourage local groups. Soon the right people are in the right place, at the right time, with the right funds! Concern for education, the rights of women and girls and most recently anti-child trafficking efforts have kept us in close touch with Lydia and our networks which are growing in size and strength.

My story this week is about how one of those miraculous networks, with paths of connecting dots, helped to build another school in the Highlands of Central Vietnam.

Here was the challenge. This, believe it or not, is the former functioning school in a remote mountain village.

DOT #1 A few years ago I noticed, in the town of Hoi An, often on a Sunday, a gang of young people dressed in t-shirts which read "Same Same But Different." I was intrigued by their energy and laughter as they assembled on a street corner. I remember asking one young woman what they were all about. Of course, I asked in English and got a shrug in response. Once again I wished that I could get my tongue around the Vietnamese language. 

DOT #2 It took months of patching information together, but with the help of Quyen and our Vietnamese family we got it sorted. "SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT" is the slogan of a local group of volunteers with an organization called ONG VANG. 

I liked the idea of local, young Vietnamese working on a volunteer basis to help their less advantaged countrymen. Unbeknownst to me, Quyen and Binh and their staff at Reaching Out,, were supporting Ong Van!

DOT #3 Then we met Thanh Huynh. 

Thanh Huynh spearheads many Ong Vang charitable events in Hoi An, but what interested me most was what I was beginning to learn about the living conditions of the mountain people in Central Vietnam, the appalling conditions of their schools and the herculean tasks that Thanh and his crews were faced with in building new schools. Just look at the muck, the live electrical cords in the muck, the sandaled feet. And, all of the materials are hauled up the mountain by hand.

DOT #4 My sister and her husband are retired teachers in Ontario. Of course, they too were riveted by the pictures and stories that I have been posting about what these young people are doing to provide weatherproof shelter in which mountain children could learn. 

DOT #5 District 26 Kenora RTO/ ERO. The local Kenora chapter of the Retired Teachers organization of Ontario has recently, once again, responded to our plea for funds to build another school. This vital and active organization helps retired educators to remain engaged in the world and our projects in Vietnam fit the bill!!! Lured by a delicious basket of goodies as a raffle prize, put together by my sister, the group raised significant funds to sponsor school #9 in the highlands.

And so, despite foul weather the SAME SAME gang set off up the mountain to once again, against all odds, build a school and playground. Thank you!  District 26 Kenora RTO/ERO

 The children were fed. Looks like someone donated jackets this time as well.

You, your organization, your family, your class, your network could be DOT # 6, 7, 8, 9, 10!!! Let's help ONG VANG build more schools.