Each year, GISH participants work to “Change A Life” by making a profound difference in the lives of people and communities facing extraordinary hardship. Since 2011, Gishers have helped a wounded US veteran rebuild his life, provided life-saving resources for Syrian refugees, given hundreds of at-risk students of a South African dance school a way to transcend poverty, and provided over 150 Rwandan female genocide survivors a co-op farm/marketplace in their quest to become self-sufficient and provide for their families.
This year, in partnership with our friend Giles Duley, a renowned photographer who travels the world documenting stories from the victims of war, we are launching, our most ambitious Change A Life yet: one that will help save and improve the lives of countless children and adults in Laos.
Imagine the most harmless-looking objects in your neighborhood are actually the most dangerous. They appear to be small, metal balls about the size of a tennis ball. They're easy to overlook and appear to be little toys.
In Laos, these are not toys. They are unexploded, shrapnel-laden bombs.
Laos is the most heavily bombed nation per capita in the world. Since the Vietnam war, over 20,000 people have been injured or lost their lives - including over 8,000 children.
One of these children was two-year-old Kayeng. He and his cousins, Vaeng and Ching, decided to light a fire outside to stay warm one morning. Unfortunately, they lit the fire near an unexploded bomb and it quickly detonated, launching shrapnel everywhere.
The shrapnel from the bomb injured Vaeng and Ching, and left Kayeng completely blind.
This year's Change A Life Campaign is going to help Laos in two ways:
First, with your help, we're going to continue clearing unexploded bombs from farmlands. Your support has helped make hundreds of acres safe already for the children and families of Laos.
Second, our bigger initiative, will help fund the manufacture of much-needed prosthetics for countless Laotian children and adults missing limbs. You'll help provide limbs and arms for children so they can walk to school and play, and farmers so they can provide for themselves and their families. From the funds raised, we hope to improve the lives of thousands in Laos for years to come.
We're going to partner with Random Acts, a 501 (c)(3), to raise $150,000 to help protect thousands of Laotians from unexploded bombs and provide countless children and adults with prosthetic arms and legs. We want EVERY child in Laos to be able to walk to school and play without fear of bombs. We want EVERY child in Laos who has lost one or more limbs to have access to prosthetic limbs. We may not achieve this lofty goal, but that's not going to stop us from trying to get close! Join us!
DONATIONS ARE 100% TAX DEDUCTIBLE AND 100% OF THE DONATIONS GO TO THESE EFFORTS (for countries other than the U.S., deductions are contingent on your laws).