Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Volunteer Departs for Vietnam

By Steve Laible, CTI Volunteer Project Leader, Vietnam

An eleven hour plane ride provides ample time for reflection and I have been reflecting on my experiences as a volunteer with Compatible Technology International (CTI). I became a volunteer for CTI in 2005 when I helped Don Moran establish a CTI presence in Bangladesh. CTI has been providing innovative post-harvest processing solutions for 30 years. The processing tools and initiatives related to clean water have enabled hundreds of volunteers to help thousands of people living in poverty in all parts of the world. Most of the benefits relate to food security, nutrition and healthier lives. CTI is a relatively small non profit organization based in Saint Paul, Minnesota that has made a large impact in several developing countries.

Today, I am flying to Vietnam as part of an initiative to help Vietnamese cocoa farmers who work and live in the southern regions of Vietnam. My plane ride from Minneapolis to Tokyo was uneventful (and that's a good thing). I was able to navigate the bus ride from terminal 1 to terminal 2 for my next flight on Vietnam Airlines. As I step aboard a very new and very pristine Airbus, I'm struck by the irony of transporting a basic hand operated grinder on such a sleek high technology flying machine. The Airbus has a capacity of over 200 passengers, but today there are only about 20 of us on the plane. The light passenger load is probably a bad thing for the emerging tourism industry in Vietnam, but for me it means lots of space and a row to myself. During the six hour flight from Tokyo I am able to get a couple of hours of decent sleep. I arrive safely in Ho Chi Minh City.

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