Reader’s Digest to feature Elyite

by Tom Coombe

An Ely man’s quest to improve the fortunes of Vietnamese children is attracting national attention.<BR><BR>The July edition of Reader’s Digest will include a story on the efforts of Kim McCluskey, the employee of Piragis Northwoods Company who raised money to build a home for three orphaned girls near the remote village of Pingoi.<BR><BR>And McCluskey, with the assistance of Vietnamese guide Vu Huy, is taking up another mission: raising funds to build schools in the remote areas of Vietnam.<BR><BR>McCluskey coordinates Vietnamese canoe trips for Ely’s Piragis Northwoods, in conjunction with Huy.<BR><BR>Earlier this month, McCluskey returned Huy’s hospitality by showing him around town and taking him on a fishing and canoeing trip outside of Ely.<BR><BR>“We hope to see a bear while he’s here,” said McCluskey.<BR><BR>Huy’s help has been pivotal, according to McCluskey, in the efforts to help the orphaned girls.<BR><BR>“He has taken care of all of the legalities,” said McCluskey. “Without his help we couldn’t do anything.”<BR><BR>McCluskey happened upon the orphaned girls, age 13, 15 and 17, during a trip several months ago and he launched an attempt to help them build a home.<BR><BR>“It just kind of happened by accident,” McCluskey said of the quest first reported in the Echo earlier this year. “We wanted to help the girls out and it kept getting bigger and bigger.”<BR><BR>Located 70 miles from the Chinese border, Pingoi is about seven hours north of Hanoi in a mountainous region.<BR><BR>“You don’t see any tourists there - it’s off the beaten path,” said McCluskey. “There’s no such thing as indoor plumbing. You see bamboo houses up on stilts, built high on the edge of the water.”<BR><BR>McCluskey was successful in raising money for the girls and he’s turning his attention to a much larger project.<BR><BR>“Huy has just finished negotiations and they’ve broken ground on the first school building in a remote village,” said McCluskey.<BR><BR>Huy, whose journey here took him from Hanoi to Hong Kong to Vancouver and finally Minneapolis, said he was excited to be in Ely.<BR><BR>“I can’t expect anything better than this,” said Huy “Everything is clean. There are a lot of trees, a lot of woods. It’s a very nice town.”<BR><BR>