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Bi-Annual Blog

April 2016

Some people over the past year, because of the focus on our café in Manly, have approached me and asked me if I am still doing the charity work, this frustrates me a lot. Ashley and I spend our time growing the business so we can do the charity work, our long term goal remains unchanged and will always be the same – to have a sustainable business that supports both the charity and our lifestyle enabling us to be present where the charity operates. It sounds quite simple doesn’t it but let me assure you it has had its challenges. I explain to people that I am always working 24/7 but on the other hand I am never working – it’s most likely a difficult concept to grasp to those who are living the 9-5 life but it is my reality.  The café is open 7 days a week and needs constant attention, the trekking business requires a lot of planning, meetings and overseas trips, the charity is literally 24/7 as we operate in 3 different time zones and of course being a father and a husband, well we all know you need to be present and attentive 100% of the time. Ashley and I have a lot on but we work hard to find balance in our lives, work hard to grow the businesses, the charity and our family.

IBSH is now 18 months old and we couldn’t be going stronger. I have now stepped away from the board and act as Managing Director, we have appointed a chairman, my dear friend and mentor Peter McLoughlin and we have 6 more very strong and unique board members – 1 board member right now is walking The Appalachian Trail across America raising money for the charity and another board member is currently in Tanzania leading our HIV outreach initiative in rural Arusha. Truly unique and very special individuals.

Ashley and I just returned from a trip to Nepal, it had been almost a year since we had returned and for both of us it was the escape we needed to re attach to everything it is we are doing. Of course we moved the charity forward whilst there and had many meetings but it is always the time we spent with the children that is the most special to us. Each trip we learn more about their culture, their upbringing and their hopes & dreams. We love spending hours at the orphanage bonding with the kids – it was my 6th time back to Nepal and Ashley’s 3rd time and Indie’s 1st time and we were welcomed with so much love, we honestly did not want to leave. Indie was a hit, we could not walk the streets without being stopped every 5 metres by Nepalese woman who wanted to bless her and get a blessing off her. We all got a little bit sick over there but for me that just comes with the territory – the change in altitude, atmosphere and of course the change in food and water always upsets the system. Indie escaped it, thank god, but Ashley and I were hit hard. Our time there was truly amazing and we cannot wait to return.

Bare Naked Bowls has experienced growth that I did not forecast and over the last 9 months has grown into a formidable business. We will be opening our 2nd store in October this year and cannot wait to launch a 3rd store early in 2017. The growth of Bare Naked Bowls takes pressure of IBSH fundraising as 10% of our net profit goes directly to the charity, so the success of our business is an absolute blessing – check us our at www.barenakedbowls.com.au.

Trek for Change has also experienced growth, we signed up our first school a couple of months back and are proud to announce that we will be taking 16 students and 5 teachers from St Augustine’s to Tanzania in December this year to complete the building of a 5th classroom for a school we support in Arusha that is home to 74 orphan children. We are also in discussion with several other schools for overseas trips and are planning a cycling trip to Cambodia in April of 2017 – if you want to challenge yourself physically, mentally and emotionally please check out - www.trekforchange.com.au/cambodia-adventure-cycling.

Cambodia

Cambodia has been an interesting country for us to deal with. Our plans to rollout a regional mobile health clinic focusing on the prevention and treatment of HIV came to a screeching halt in December last year when I received an email from the Director of the Ministry of Health of Cambodia saying that he believed his plans to be sufficient enough to move forward and that the only help they needed from us was financial. Two things:

1.     His plan ensured that every Cambodian would be under the health care of the government with a focus on HIV by 2025, our plan achieved this within a couple of years and,

2.     IBSH is not a charity that simply gives money to countries without any involvement in the project.

This was a hard pill for me to swallow as my passion to help children living with HIV started with Peth in Cambodia and I wanted desperately to help others like him. However, I am now thinking it was a blessing in disguise, our newest board member Brian Ford developed a similar program for Tanzania, which is much more in need,  and we have successfully started the rollout of that – I will talk more about that in the Tanzania section.

Our desire to help those in Cambodia has not dampened; we are still very much involved in the country, we have constant contact with Peth and the other boys and girls living with HIV that the New Hope for Cambodia Children are caring for and we are watching our 7 children very carefully up at the Child Rescue Centre, they are working hard to achieve their academic goals and when they do, will move into the IBSH home and we will support them through university – this will be in September / October of 2017.

Our Trek for Change bike ride will be visiting both centres as the group travels from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville via Phnom Penh in an adventure and emotionally charged journey.

Tanzania

Tanzania is the poorest country out of all the 3 countries we support and in turn it is the country that we want to help the most.

We have a number of programs now active in Tanzania – our university program, our HIV outreach program, and our building program.

Our university program is running very smoothly with the 4 girls we are supporting through their chosen bachelors degree performing very well after their first semester of university. Adam, our 5th student and IBSH employee will be starting his Masters over the next couple of weeks. The IBSH home is a great refuge for them all and gives them the stability they need to achieve their educational dreams. The home is actually vacant for 5 months of the year so we are working with other NGO’s to have them use it for volunteers.

Our HIV outreach program has been an incredible success; one that starts with heartache but ultimately ends with hope. Our board member Brian Ford has been leading this project on the ground and has been in Tanzania now for over a month. He teamed up with our employee Adam on arrival and the 2 visited a couple of very poor towns about an hour out of Arusha in their first few days. They met up with a local HIV officer and he took them to some of the worst cases in the towns. Our goal here is the prevention, education and ultimate treatment of HIV and in these regional areas they are forgotten and the communities have a 35% HIV rate. Think about that, imagine if 35% of the community that you lived in were living with HIV and were not getting treated, always living with death on your door step. One of the first houses they visited they met Neema, a 19 year old girl with a CD4 count of 9 (you and I have a CD4 count of over 6000), she was deathly ill so the boys rushed her to a private hospital – unfortunately she died that night, we were a couple of days too late. Brian and Adam were heart broken but it toughened their resolve to continue their mission. They have now met and engaged 21 families across the 2 towns and we are supporting every family at different levels, everything from HIV awareness and education to food drops and also getting the kids into school. We are focusing on the HIV positive kids to ensure they are getting the right treatment needed.

This program is very important to us as an organisation and we will be in it for the long haul. Our other board member Toby visits in August and will do follow up visits to all the families and I will be their in December to do the same. In the meantime, Adam will be doing food drops and will be managing the finances with the families ensuring the kids are in school and the ill are medicated.

Our building program has seen us complete the build of the 4-class room school for the 74 orphan children as part of the assistance we are giving to Jitihada Support and we are returning through Trek for Change with a school group in December to build a 5th classroom. We also oversaw a new home being built for 2 young boys that my wife and 3 of her volunteer friends have been supporting for the last couple of years – wonderful achievement guys.

We are currently speaking to other NGO’s and assessing other projects that we think could do with our assistance.

Thank you all for taking the time to read our update and thank you for following our journey as we support those less fortunate. Our next newsletter will be out in October 2016.

Nepal

Ashley, Indie and I just spent 12 days in Nepal and part of this was to ensure that the kids and our program were on track. I was delighted to spend time with the kids and to also learn that they are getting everything that was agreed to with Namaste Community Foundation. The kids are achieving some good results in their schooling but need to work harder to ensure entrance into university next year. The program for them is working well, this involved spending time at school, time studying, free time outside of the orphanage, time on the internet, time when they are helping the mammas in the house cooking and cleaning and also time spent with the younger kids helping them with their studies. I was absolutely overwhelmed with happiness when I first arrived at the orphanage and one of the 18-year-old boys was giving a math’s lesson to 9 of the younger kids in the library – a wonderful feeling.

In April of next year the 11 kids we are supporting will be graduating from high school and will be moving out of the Namaste Children’s Home and into the IBSH home to begin their university studies. We looked at many locations for this home and have help on the ground from our dear friend Rishi who will be securing a location for us later this year. At the end of this month we will be supporting 3 more children bringing the number up to 14 – the 3 kids are wonderful examples of hard work and big hearts, Sumitra, Durga and Saraswoti will achieve much in their life and I am very proud to know that IBSH will play a big part in that.

We also had preliminary meetings with some adventure companies as we are planning a follow up bike ride to our Cambodian trip, one that will take us through the heart of the Himalayas – stay tuned for this adventure.

Myself with a very happy and healthy Peth, together with Toby and Seha

Thank you all for taking the time to read our update and thank you for following our journey as we support those less fortunate. Our next newsletter will be out in October 2016.

Best regards,

Josh Porteous

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