R Joyce introduced Rotarian Stephen Rutledge:
 
Bio for Steve Rutledge
 
Steve spent his career as co-owner of a mid sized computer company in Toronto.  Since retirement he has narrowed his focus on local and international community support.  Steve has served on several boards and committees in Port Hope including the Municipal Culture Committee, Parks, Rec and Culture Committee, Skatepark committee, Capitol Theatre Board of Directors and others.  He has received two civic awards, the latest for philanthropy and is a multiple Paul Harris award recipient for his efforts (Port Hope, Whitby Sunrise, Ajax and Beirut Cosmopolitan) and awarded the Spirit of Rotary award in 2016.  In 2018, he received the Family and Community Service award from the Rotary Club of Courtice.  His most recent award was the Bob Scott Disease Prevention award from Rotary District 7070 in June 2020.
 
With his partner they created a number of large events including one they held in their home netting $61,000 for the Capitol theatre and another town event for 6000 people.
 
For the last 13 years Steve has ventured into Laos serving the rural villagers with the most basic of needs for sustained life.  Since 2009, Adopt A Village in Laos has completed over 65 villages with filtered water one family at a time, serving over 35,000 rural villagers, constructed over 2 dozen permanent water supplies, repaired numerous others, built dozens of toilet banks, 12 school construction projects and continues to sponsor a host of secondary and university students, among other special interest projects.
 
After the Beirut port explosion in 2020, Mr. Rutledge chaired the international sponsoring partner club committee (Whitby Sunrise club) and raised approximately $240,000 from 60 clubs towards a global grant to replace operating theatre equipment for Beirut’s only public hospital.  Steve is also co-Chair of the International Committee at Whitby Sunrise and sits on the District 7070 Water and Sanitation Committee.
 
 
 
Stephen fell in love with the culture and people several years ago when he visited the country.
 
Laos is the most bombed country per capita on earth. Even today, people have to be careful of un-exploded bombs. He shared a story of going to a site where they found red ribbons on the trees indicated bombs and this 2 acre site had over 50 unexploded bombs on it.
 
Adopt a Village in Laos does just that, adopt a village and help them build water systems that may involve building a dam, laying pipe lines through the jungle, build water storage tanks, schools and latrine banks. The work is done by the people, with hand tools and they enjoy the work and community effort. The program started in 2010.
 
They install filters at the dam to try and keep pipes open and not clogging. They also have filters at the water tanks and install several taps for people in the Village to come and fill water jugs. Before the water is drinkable, each home has their own water purification system which consists of a clay pot that filters 98% of the bacteria out of the water. the clay pots are coated with silver nitrate that kills what gets through the clay pot. A jug of water takes about 10 hours to filter through the clay pot to sit in the reservoir ready for use. These individual water filter units cost $125 each. These systems last about 6 to 8  years before they replace the spigot and ceramic pot.
 
They support children through school and recently had the first University graduate who started as an elementary student receiving support through the Adopt a Village program.
 
Due to the pandemic, Stephen hasn't been to Laos for 3 years. Before he went annually.
 
Adopt a Village in Laos recognize the donors and the people in Laos like to see pictures of the donors.
 
A major cost is transportation from the south of the country where they are made to the northern villages.
 
When they built their first school, there was a noticeable lack of girls until they put in a program to help during the girls menstral cycle and now they outnumber the boys. And Stephen confirms the girls are smarter than the boys too.