Posted by Sudhin Shah on March 12th 2009 in Organizations Edit

Close friends Jessica Wilson and Alexandra Krockow were not deterred by their youth or the difficulties of the task when they undertook to bring awareness and help to a little known children’s organization. They were just 24 years old when they founded Cane International. Soon after the tsunami disaster in 2004 they sought ways to provide substantial help to those in need, but due to their lack of expertise and to the political climate in the affected region they were not successful. They did not give up and after a year-long search for an appropriate cause they encountered Thanh Xuan Peace Village in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The Peace Village serves as a refuge, providing shelter, care and education to second and third generation descendants of the victims of dioxin (Agent Orange). The chemical was used during the America-Vietnam War to deforest land and subsequently has entered the water supply. The effects of dioxin are trans-generational and range from neurological disorders, like the inability to form memories, to babies being born without vital organs or limbs. Moved and inspired by the children and the dedicated staff, and armed with an initial set of needs, Wilson and Krockow established Cane International.

The mission of Cane International is to act as the necessary support vehicle for organizations such as Thanh Xuan Peace Village that serve peoples around the world who are crippled by devastating and unsafe political climates. The needs are different everywhere, and sometimes rather surprising in nature. For instance at Thanh Xuan the first priorities included renovating bathroom and kitchen facilities, raising funds for heating fuel and increasing staffing.

Having established a mission and eager to start work they partnered with Cambodia-based Journeys Within Our Community (JWOC). This helped them establish and develop programs prior to obtaining their own 501 c3 status, with JWOC collecting and distributing the funds. Wilson and Krockow credit this business relationship with being fundamental to their successes thus far. Last year Cane applied for its own 501 c3 status.

Alexandra and Jessica have succeeded in their fund-raising despite their other responsibilities and their geographic separation –Wilson lives in New York City and Krockow is from Cologne, Germany. The two met while in school in Madrid, and now both have full time careers independent of their commitments with Cane. Krockow is pursuing a graduate degree in Development Studies at SOAS University in London. Wilson works in business development for an architectural firm in New York.

Raising funds, primarily from a network of their families and friends, Wilson and Krockow have achieved some of their initial goals at the Peace Village – renovated bathroom facilities and updated them for handicap accessibility, funding salaries for two new full-time staff members, purchasing blankets and a year’s worth of heating fuel, and providing pest traps. Currently they are developing a business plan for an on-site pharmacy that will generate revenue while serving the larger community. They are also actively working to improve awareness of the trans-generational effects of dioxin, which can skip generations but still wreck havoc in subsequent descendants. To this end they have organized volunteer visits from those interested in hands-on help at the village, and will do more in the future.

Wilson and Krockow hope to hold a major fundraiser in 2009 to continue their efforts in the Peace Village. With increased resources they also hope to help other organizations around the world, particularly in the Balkans and in Latin America.

Cane International

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