Jhai Foundation notes bus attack in Laos

The latest Jhai Foundation newsletter notes an attack on a bus in Laos:

Some of you may have heard about a ‘terrorist attack’ in Laos yesterday. The reports are true. Eight People on a bus and two people on motorcycles were killed after a robbery. Two of them were internationals. Their identities and nationalities have not yet been confirmed. The attackers are thought to be Lao citizens, probably Hmong, possibly still caught up in the war that ended 28 years ago here. This will not be confirmed until they are caught.

This incident took place more than 30 km North of Vang Vieng or about 100 km North of our launch site. This is a sad day in Laos.

Whoa, I think I was on that bus a year ago! As I recall, that area of Laos is still noted for occasional bandit attacks…

Date: 07 Feb 2003 22:29:44 +1100
From: (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: Jhai Foundation Remote Villages Network Update, Security Issues, New FAQs, Press Visas

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Jhai

Foundation Remote Villages Network.

An

update from Lee,
New FAQ’s,
Security Issues and

If You Need a Press Visa

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Contacts:


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p> Jesse Thorn 1 415 225 1665,

Earl Mardle 612 9787 4527,

Enthusiastic "Ground Level"

support team.

Jhai’s

From

Lee Thorn in Laos

Dear friends,

We are on

track and we will launch on 13 February. Lee Felsenstein arrived last

night and is whipping us into shape in his gentle, nerdish way. Ed Gaible

arrived with him and is now up a tree on a mountain above the village

of Phon Kham. All of us – about 40 people between the village and our

staff and volunteers – are working hard and our spirits are high.

A

Sad Day For Laos

Some

of you may have heard about a ‘terrorist attack’ in Laos yesterday. The

reports are true. Eight People on a bus and two people on motorcycles

were killed after a robbery. Two of them were internationals. Their identities

and nationalities have not yet been confirmed. The attackers are thought

to be Lao citizens, probably Hmong, possibly still caught up in the war

that ended 28 years ago here. This will not be confirmed until they are

caught.

This incident

took place more than 30 km North of Vang Vieng or about 100 km North of

our launch site. This is a sad day in Laos.

Security

Arrangements For The Launch

As I write, Vorasone Dengkayaphichith, our great country coordinator,

is meeting with officials in Hin Heup District and Vientiane Province

to make final arrangements for security for all people at our launch and

party on 13 February. Vor and I know many, many children in the village

of Phon Kham and the other villages and Bounthanh has nieces and nephews,

and sisters and brothers and her parents there, too. Those children will

be safe – and, I believe, we will be safe, too.

Our remote

village project is a sophisticated, appropriate high tech endeavor designed

by Lee Felsenstein and his excellent team specifically for the needs as

expressed by the villagers who are getting the system.

And this

project rests in Jhai Foundation, … which is a reconciliation organization

which, now, has worked for over five years in Laos, and nearly three,

now, on state-of-the-art IT projects. Jhai Foundation is we people in

it and our relationships – and there are hundreds of us doing something

every day – and we are located all over the world.

Reconciliation,

like peace – and like development – is the opposite of war. Reconciliation

is the process of recognizing our connection – something that always was

and always will be, something very, very valuable. Jhai – in Lao – means

the spirit and energy of connection, as well as hearts and minds working

together … and many other similar things. It is neutral. It is up to

us how we act, how we respect.

War and peace

are matters of choice. Sometimes we choose to close down and kill. For

this – I know and most Lao people know – you pay until you die. The price

is unbelievably huge. Other times we choose to open up and connect. For

this – thanks to Lao people who teach me about this daily by the way the

are and act – I know you get the chance for joy, the chance to recognize

others as just plain people … and the chance to know and like yourself.

The choice, it seems, is easy. What shall we take?

In an age

of terrorism – which breeds fear like a virus – it is best to connect.

We choose to connect, to move forward, to do what we can do – with you

  • to help some poor folks who are friends of ours connect with one another and when they want to, with us. The benefit, we hope, is unbelievably huge.
  • Come to our launch. We will dazzle you with fun!

    Join us,

    Lee Thorn chair, Jhai Foundation

    PS Please do not hesitate to consult our FAQ or to email Jesse Thorn, . If you need to talk with one of us in Laos, that can be arranged.

    New FAQ’s

    What Were The Greatest Problems To Create The Technical Solution?
    From Jhai’s perspective it has been funding and localization. We have done this on a very small budget – lower five digits in US dollars – with the help of many engineers and other technical people. The technical lead was taken by renown computer designer Lee Felsenstein.

    A team of over 20 people donated their time. This time is worth, we estimate, perhaps $0.5 million. Localization has not been easy. For example, the team had to create new Unicode mappings for existing fonts. The relation of English to Lao is anything but direct.

    Which Impact Will The Internet Access Probably Have On The Villagers?
    They believe it will give them the opportunity to have a closer relationship with their extended families and to get better prices for their products at market. It is like a road for them.

    Is A Prototype Already Working?
    We have tested all components. The Jhai PC works. We are now completing the ‘marriage’ of the software and the hardware.

    Do You Think The Jhai PC Will Help Bring Access To Remote Sites In Other Countries As Well?
    The answer is ‘yes’. We have had inquiries from 40 countries and we expect observers from about several major development funding agencies to see our launch in the village of Phon Kham on 13 February.

    We designed specifically in terms of the expressed needs of people in five villages that have no electricity, no phones or hope of cell phone connectivity, and no good roads in the rainy season. I learned years ago from the Independent Living Movement of People with Disabilities that when people design for the folks with the most challenges, the tool works for many people equally or less challenged. I suspect this principle works with the Jhai Computer and Communications System.

    How Important Is The Way Jhai Works?
    I suspect that our development efforts – using the reconciliation model we have developed based on relationships between people on opposite sides of a devastating war, also will have wide application. Jhai Foundation and the villagers of Phon Kham have gotten to know each other over five years. Each of us brings our whole selves and our whole experience to the table. We all are through with war. It is amazing what happens when people are willing to stay in the room and communicate – no matter how hard it is.

    Many technology projects fail because the application becomes focused on the technology first; that often doesn’t work. Jhai’s model focuses on people and communication, the need for the technology grows out of that. We get to the technology through communication, not the other way round.

    Press Visa Requirements
    If you plan on coming to the launch and you are press, please make arrangements for a press visa and minder immediately. Jhai may be able to help if you follow these steps:

    1. Send the following Information to
    2. Email Subject Line:
      PLEASE RUN PRESS VISA PERMISSION
    3. In the email we need the following information:
      • Full
        • name as it appears on the person’s passport
      • Country of the passport
      • Passport Number
      • Date of Arrival in Laos
      • Date of Departure from Laos
    4. Explicit detailed list of any equipment (taperecorders, cameras, etc.) you are bringing.
      Including BRAND NAME and MODEL #.
    5. Complete Laotian itinerary in detail. For example,
      • 10 February
      • Arrive Vientiane
  • 11 and 12 February – Travel to Phon Hong, Vientiane Province
  • 13 and 14 February – Travel to Phon Kham, Vientiane Province 13 Feb.
  • 15 February Depart Vientiane

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