Welcome and Thanks
Thank you everyone for the wonderful support and contributions you have made throughout not only One Body Village's (OBV) first year of operation as a Non-Profit Organization, but your continued friendship and love of the work we do. For those that do not know, I am excited to announce that One Body Village is officially a registered charity in Canada as of April 1, 2017. With this in place, the whole ball game changes and we are excited to share some of our new initiatives and plans with all of you. However, before we get into all of that I want to take a moment to especially thank the members of our Board that have been so helpful in making the dreams of this past year a reality.
Arsheen Dhalla, who gave her guidance and insight in running a charity of her own, the Daraja Foundation. Without her considerable experience in knowing the ins and outs of how to run an NGO, I think that we would still be in the middle of applying for our charity status instead of having received it after less than a year!
Adam and Rebecca Bloomer, who have been instrumental in lending their strategic vision and their depth of knowledge in business and the legal world in how we can do things better and dream big. We have a few exciting initiatives that have sprung up from their efforts that we will happy to be revealing soon.
Kelly Le, who has been a champion against child sex trafficking for over 10 years and is the person who introduced me to the cause and plight of the children we help. She has continued to be a strong voice for us and her ability to rally people and raise funds for OBV has been second to none.
Aaron Sun, who after meeting the children in 2016 has become one of our most active Board Members and champions for these children. He works tirelessly behind the scenes with me and is involved in every aspect of the charity, including planning, delivery and most importantly, keeping our finances on point!
And lastly but not least, I would like to introduce our newest members to our Board of Directors, Corinne Chong and Ena Lee. They both took a chance and traveled with OBV to Southeast Asia in January 2017 already with the willingness to open their hearts and minds to the plight of vulnerable women and children. They truly believe in our cause and have that inextinguishable fire to fight for justice and I am so happy to have them help steer OBV down an even more successful path.
Summary of Work
The following is a summary of the work that we've completed as a Non-Profit Organization over the past year.
I am very pleased as your President to discuss our current financial position. We had a goal this year of raising $20,000 in gross revenue. I am happy to announce that not only did we hit that goal, we smashed it by raising over $90,000. With this has come some significant challenges and difficult learning experiences for us. For example, both galas that we hosted in Toronto (October 22, 2016) and Calgary (March 22, 2017) had higher expenses than we anticipated and budgeted for while not raising as much funds as we had hoped. We do sincerely apologize for our inexperience with event planning and contract negotiation. We learned that we need to improve our communication, collaboration and participation of all board members. Moving forward, we will make collective decisions that maintain the interests of the children that we love, protect and provide for. That being said, both galas were successful in the way we raised awareness about child sexual exploitation, gained more supporters and believers in our vision and mission, generated recurring donations and increased brand recognition.
This year, as we have achieved charitable registration, we are changing the way we raise funds and reaffirming our pledge that we do it in a manner that is sustainable, accountable and ultimately results in the children receiving more.
With that out of the way, the proceeds of the generous donations and fundraising revenue we received in the year went to supporting the operations of One Body Village in Vietnam and Cambodia. As the Canada Revenue Agency mandates that all proceeds flowing overseas must be done via an intermediary, we've been working diligently on doing this through the proper legal channels and I am happy to announce that we've just wrapped up the agreement with One Body Village (USA) and our first wire transfer to Vietnam is en route! What does this mean? The funds will be transferred to our children in Vietnam and Cambodia to provide them shelter, education, medical care, psychological counseling and vocational training. We are also committed to the prevention of child sex trafficking by promoting education and alleviating poverty in the community. Portions of the funds transferred to Vietnam and Cambodia will provide financial and educational assistance to at-risk children and families in targeted rural areas and also provide workshops to increase awareness about child sexual exploitation and abuse in these regions.
As I mentioned before, our charity status has opened the doors for us to raise funds in a completely different way, particularly through corporate soliciting and government grants. The Board and I will be feverishly working on identifying, applying and meeting with a targeted pool of donors both in Calgary and Toronto in the coming months. We are excited and hopeful that having sustainable annual contributions from a wide berth of sources will help our operations in Southeast Asia grow exponentially.
We will be hosting another Freedom Gala in Calgary in 2018 (date TBA). We will begin planning for the event later in the Summer/Fall. With more planning and the lumps that we took last time, we are confident that this one will come in far under the budget of last year's gala and will help boost our identity, raise awareness of the issues of child sex trafficking and raise funds for the cause.
Lastly, we will continue with our product sales of handmade bracelets and jewelry that raise funds efficiently and delivers our message in a very personal and meaningful way. We are looking to revamp our jewelry in partnership with local artisans who share our vision and mission. Stay tuned!
I would like to thank you all again for your love, your support and your voice for One Body Village. It has been a difficult year, full of trials and tribulations but I as the president have grown confident and I am so proud of what we have achieved so far. This coming year will be a landmark year for us as we continue to grow as a charity and I have faith that your continued love of the work we do will make a lasting impact on the many lives that you are saving.
President, One Body Village Canada