Although we've worked with DDD on and off for seven or eight years, this was the first time anyone from Benetech had had the chance to visit their offices in Laos (I've been to their New York City offices where founder Jeremy Hockenstein is located and where their sales efforts are based, but Laos is much cooler to visit!). The head of DDD's Laos office is Ms. Phabphada Dokbouathong (who goes by "Phab"). She met us at the airport and dropped our bags off at our hotel and took us to a major crafts fair being held outside of town (where we saw products produced by numerous social enterprises: more on the social enterprise action in Laos and Thailand in my next post). Phab is on a mission: she believes strongly that she is building her country by helping her students acquire the skills they will use to help advance Laos in the future. She worked hard to get each student to talk to me 1:1 and use their English, a skill she thinks is crucial for the future.
I also was able to meet and have dinner with DDD's Chief Operating Officer, Cynthia Hauck, an experienced outsourcing exec based at DDD's Cambodia offices, who has joined DDD recently.
I was able to demonstrate what we do with the files the students help generate, using our Read2Go application on an iPad. Seeing the words being spoken aloud on a device really helped them visualize how blind and dyslexic students use the accessible text ebooks that they create.