First message from warm Laos

We had a very productive and pleasant time here in Laos! We travelled with over a hundred kilo of luggage with us, mostly stuff for poor families. (Thank you Estee Travel Agency Nootdorp for arranging this!) Everything has arrived in good order.

 

First message from warm Laos

We had a very productive and pleasant time here in Laos! We travelled with over a hundred kilo of luggage with us, mostly stuff for poor families. (Thank you Estee Travel Agency Nootdorp for arranging this!) Everything has arrived in good order. We visited Sam Neua and Vieng Xai in the north, after more than 20 hours of slithering bus ride along sharp curves and deep ravines. The ARBO law is interpreted a bit extensively here; one bus driver has driven the whole part of the trip, only with a short stop. The bus had no wipers even though it’s a rainy season, the horn was out of order which was very inconvenient in blind corners and the dash-board didn’t divert the driver because it doesn’t work. Sometimes, we smelled kitchen air and saw some smoke. This was solved by adding extra water. We had a tire changed along the way but fortunately, we arrived safely without accidents.

 

New activity

Vieng Xai is one of the district of Huaphan Province. It is the most bombed area on earth (thanks to the United States of America). It is also the hometown of Dong, one of our specialists. Dong is the crucial link of our foundation in Laos and she has committed herself from the start of our organization to support the people of Khong District. We therefore decided to support a project in her hometown by building a three-classroom primary school. The solidarity among the people in this area is very strong. They did a lot by themselves to improve their community and their living condition. Our organization can really learn from them. Perhaps, this community is that strong because they were able to re-built from the ashes and destruction caused by the war in the 70’s. We are hoping that they can share their experiences with the people of Khong District.

 

Learn English without paying 

On our way back, we stopped in Vang Vieng. In this area, there are great examples of how the people can profit on tourism in an appropriate way. We visited an Organic farm where they produce mulberry tea, goat cheese and others. This farm also started a project for children and adults to learn English. Students don’t have to pay the English courses but they need to help other children in the lower level by also teaching English and or be a class assistant. Volunteer foreign students and tourists who are visiting the project are responsible in teaching the advance level English course. A local staff directs the teachers and the students.  This way of teaching needs a strong leadership and firm management. We are exploring possibilities of adapting this project in our organization. We will be supported by an organization named Laat Laos Leren (Let Laos Learn), a Belgian NGO.

 

Save the forests

Everybody, even among the wealthy families in Khong District prepare their meals on a wood fire. They use charcoals and refractory pot to steam rice and cook their meals. We intend to start a pilot-project to encourage the use of biogas. Cow manures will be used to produce biogas for cooking. The costs of such installation (with two gas burners) are estimated at €300. After that, one can cook “for free”. They only have to collect the manure of 4 cows daily and put it in the installation. The benefits are huge: it would save the woods; promotes health due to absence of smoke in the house; time-saving for women and children; they only have to collect the manures instead of sawing wood; and the by-product is an excellent compost that can be used in the backyard garden. We have visited SNV in Vientiane. It is a Dutch organization which has built more than 1000 of these installations in Laos. When our local committee is interested, they can develop this further with our support. 

 

Other activities  

With Ging and Dong, we discussed the ongoing projects and reviewed on how we can support our local committee better. Our Khong Development Committee (KDC) is doing all the work. It is great to talk to each other face to face. Email has its limits. We are looking into the possibility of income generation for some inhabitants by processing fish into products like the Laotian variety of pesto or pate which can be sold to Thai tourists. We have already met someone in Vientiane who can conduct such training to the people. We also visited different organizations like the Red Cross to examine how we can implement water wells in a responsible way. 

The compliments of other organizations gave us the spirit to go on with our work!! 

You’ll hear from us soon!

Sian and Adrie.