In 2009, Echo Lee saw a TV program called CNN Heroes, about a Singapore Airline pilot, Budi Soehardi, who had seen abandoned children in the streets after the 1999 conflict when East Timor broke away from Indonesia.  He began sending food and medical supplies to the refugee camps.  In 2002, he started the Roslin Orphanage with his wife, funded by his own salary, to take care of some of these children.  Since then, they have raised about 150 children and have 5 full-time staff members.
Echo Lee occasionally checked their website, where they had blogs from visitors from all over the world.  She decided to visit the orphanage on one of her business trips to China.  She showed us a video of about 60 of these children during her visit.  She interviewed a few of the older ones who could speak English, to learn more about their variety of backgrounds and family circumstances.  (Echo was shown on their website.)
She arrived at lunch time and saw them eating and cleaning up afterward, then singing songs.  She saw the kitchen, the library, the shower room, and the sleeping areas, where babies and small children share some beds while teenagers have their own bunk beds.  They have a kindergarten, which serves some neighborhood children (free of charge) as well as their own.  In addition to other classrooms, their goal is to provide high school and some college education.
The captain and his wife are concerned about the long-term financial viability after he retires.  His wife was hospitalized recently, and he was in testing for his pilot’s license renewal.  They have a variety of needs including milk powder, uniforms, shoes, clothes, mosquito nets, water, eggs, soccer balls, playground equipment, etc.  To help future income, he is planning to start a 3-hectare banana farm, enough for 3000 banana plants (that cost $1 each).  They can be harvested in one year, and one plant can multiply into several others.  (He says, “We are family, not an orphanage.”)
Capt Soehardi said he attended the Rotary International convention in Los Angeles in 2008 and met the RI President, and had also visited the Torrance and Lomita Rotary Clubs.  Echo Lee proposes that our Club support this deserving and inspiring Roslin Orphanage as an international project.