+ with little
Everybody who knows the Asian New year celebration is aware of the exaggerations (people don’t wear their helmet, drink a lot and drive much too fast…).
During Pi Mai (New Year), we heard about two young boys from a village we know well who had had a motorbike accident. Unfortunately, the 16 years old driver was killed on the spot. The passenger had to be transported to hospital at the back of a truck by some villagers. It lasted one hour until he arrived at the next hospital.
In fact, there is no adequate ambulance service here. ASAS visited the injured boy, gave money to round up the money collection made in the village (because insurances are very rare) in order to pay for the hospitalisation costs. We have already permanently checked the case with the doctors. This boy was very lucky.
His injury could be operated on here and it wasn’t necessary to transfer him to the capital, which would have been very expensive and complicated.
ASAS will follow the evolution of this case until the boy can go back to his village.
May is near and we will soon come back to Switzerland. This year, we won’t be alone.
Onchan, the student whose studies ASAS has helped to pay, will come with us. The administrative procedure to get the Schengen visa was very weary but our efforts were rewarded. About one month ago, we got the precious document.
An adventure which will be full of emotions and surprises for Onchan has never been out of Laos. His French level is very good and he has prepared a message for you.
Ban Huay Oun
We went to the small village of Ban Huay Oun, which is situated at the top of a hill in Sayabouri province. The access is very difficult. In fact you first have to go one and a half hour by “tuktuk” to a nearby village.
Then you have to spend two hours on a tractor, which is the only means of transport to go to this village. The crooked and bumpy road didn’t discourage us. We arrived in a very nice village and were welcome by a swarm of children.
The activities begun, with a motivated team: hygiene, story-telling, handing over of a library and school material. We also gave items coming from our collect points.
Every family went home with many things. The smiles and laughters were with us on our way back.
Donation in Ban Hoy Hay
Although Laos has a tropical climate most of the year, December and January can be cold and register temperatures as cold as 4°C in some northern regions.
Running away from cold, a family arrived in Ban Hoy Hay where ASAS had already gone in September 2015. This family has four children and none of them had warm clothes or any blanket.
In such a case, sanitary consequences can be dramatic because the houses are very simple and there is nowhere to warm up. As we heard about this case, we went to Luang Prabang market to buy clothes and, on the days after, we sent them to the village by boat.
We thank here our friend Olivier who told us about this situation, paid for a part of all and organized the donation on site.
New look for our collect points
Our collect points, which was created in December 2014, has already allowed us to collect many things. Nearly one year after its creation, and given its success, we have decided to give it a new look. Here is the result!
We have chosen 10 places in LuangPrabang where the bags and flyers are presented. We thank the restaurant owners and storekeepers without whom these collect points couldn’t have been created.
Setting up of a computer center
L'ASAS has met Vanthong (His story writing by himself). This person moved us at first sight. Life was not easy at all for him but, with much work, willpower and a life loving temperament despite of hard blows, this 29 years old man set up an English school in the yard of his own house.
He manages this project on his own, on a voluntary basis, next to his full time job. He wants to help people who don’t have the means to benefit from a quality teaching so that they have better chances for their future.
He has many projects but he has not the means to finance them. All the funds he has are hardly sufficient to finance the first project and don’t allow the development of the structure.
After several meetings and profitability calculations, ASAS has decided to finance a computer class. We have bought and put up the material, created flyers and recruited a teacher. Now teaching can begin!
Donation in Ban Hoy Hay
The collect points which we created downtown are a success and allowed us to receive many things. We went to Ban Hoy Han village in order to give some of the things we were given.
This is a small village that can only be reached by boat. It is a three hours boat trip from Luang Prabang to get there. The 480 inhabitants are khamu families. Before their village was located in the moutains. But they had to migrate because they couldn’t get enough food. They are now on the bank of the Mekong river.
This allows them to have better crops, thanks to the water they have there, and to fish. The villagers have kept their rice fields in the mountains and go there every day. Some fields are really far away (4 hours walk) and people can’t come back to the village every evening. Then the children are taken care of by the people who can come back.
It was a wonderful day among the rice fields.
But, as every time we go to the villages, we have various feelings. On the one hand we are glad to share such wonderful things with them and, on the other hand, we are appalled by so much precariousness.
Do you remember Onchan? It is this young student whose bank studies were financed by ASAS. Now he is finishing his study program.
He is still the best of his class and has already found a three-months practice for the end of his study in an association which deals with school training.
In addition to the French classes which ASAS gave him twice a week, Onchan was also very interested in computing. He was offered a laptop which had been given by donators in Switzerland. He has very quickly understood how to use this new tool and said he wanted to create a website.
ASAS has trained him several hours on a creation program. Now he has created a small website about his village.
You can discover it here
Healthy four-legged friends
Health situation in Laos still needs to be improved. This is true for animals too. However, some actions are undertaken in order to improve the situation. A vaccination and tracking program for animals which are to be slaughtered was created 7 years ago in collaboration with the government.
But, apart from breeding, what about pets? The vet in charge of this program has a small practice too, the only one in the whole province. He tries to promote veterinarian care and vaccinations for pets.
Presently the rabies vaccines are free on Saturdays and Sundays. Even if not many people come, the statistics are encouraging for the number of consultations increases every year.
Many Lao people own pets and like them very much. The problem is a real lack of knowledge about which care must be given or the costs (vaccination, food).
When we know that most people don’t even have enough money to care for their own health, we can understand that animal health is not a priority for them.
Two five month puppies were lucky enough to come across people from ASAS. Their owner came to us to ask for help as he didn’t know why his animals were dying.
They were so weak that they couldn’t even walk any more. Moreover they were covered with fleas and ticks and had worms in their stomachs. These puppies were put on a drip for two days. Unfortunately one of them didn’t survive. As for the second one, we had to wait a whole week until he finally recovered and we could give him the basic vaccines.
If the vaccines and the antiparasitic treament are given at the beginning (i.e when the animals are about 2 months old), the costs are bearable for most Lao people. The problem is that if nothing is done at the beginning, the prices will increase fourfold and then become too expensive for most people.
Hera are some prices to give an idea:
- Combined vaccines : CHF 8.-
- Rabies vaccine : CHF 4.- during the week and free on Saturdays and Sundays
- Treatment against: CHF 2.50
The owner of the puppies took the opportunity of these consultations to ask questions to the vet. He carefully read all the prospects and posters in the vet’s practice.
Finally more awareness and a diffusion of this experience will perhaps help to promote better conditions for pets in order to avoid such situations which are, unfortunately very frequent.
24 december 2014
Although Christmas is unknown in the Buddhist religion, this tradition which is celebrated in many countries is in fact well-known in Laos. For ASAS, it was an opportunity to organize a “Father Christmas” day.
With the help of our friends Bounmy, Alessandra and Dudu, we set off for a distribution round of toys and candies.
We tripped around Luang Prabang visiting the orphanage, the library and different areas.
A successful day during which we felt like children again.
A collect center could be created thanks to the collaboration with a shop which is situated in the historical center of Luang Prabang.
In fact, many people living there or tourists asked how they could help the local most neediest persons by giving them material donations but not knowing how to proceed.
Thanks to this collect point, ASAS will be able to gather what has been given and to distribute everything when they go to rural villages.
This school is extremely clean, the material and the building are well maintained and a vegetable garden which will provide fruit and vegetables for the school canteen is presently being created. It is still uncultivated because there is not enough available credit for this project.
ASAS has decided to finance all the tools (spades, watering cans, brushcutters as well as the earth and fertilizers for the garden). Brushcutting, working of the land and culture stand on the program: salads, papayas, zucchinis, cabbages, parsley, garlic and onions will be grown there.
This school which mixes school teaching and discovery of manual activities from a young age is a model which will be developed in other schools. A beautiful example to be followed.
Concerning the association EEL :
THE WELCOME CENTER IN VIENTIANE (Laos) :
The main aim of the association is to offer Lao children aged 5 to 16 and coming from underprivileged Lao families permanent facilities so that they can benefit from stability and medical care while being integrated in a school and professional structure.
This center is being created now and will be situated in the Vientiane province; it will be directly managed by EEL, with the collaboration of local professionals. This structure is part of a project which fights against poverty throughout the world.
THEIR PERMANENT ACTIVITIES :
Apart from the reception center, every year a team of volunteers travels in Laos during several months. Doctors, nurses, nursing auxiliaries help in the community clinics in the villages.
An action is also lead in an underprivileged school 5 km from Vientiane (school supplies, fences, furniture) .
source : EELwebsite :
We discovered the pilot project of the Pathumsomboune school, near Vientiane, through the association « Espoir pour les enfants du Laos » (EEL) (Hope for Lao children).
This school is managed by a director and a tightly knit small team of teachers who have many ideas to improve the daily life of the 77 children who attend this school. They want to give them a sense of responsibility as the children have to participate actively in the daily school life.
Painting, gardening and various creative workshops with craft products round up the traditional program.
Distribution of material
When it came back from Switzerland, ASAS had, in its luggage, various equipment and material like laptops, books, toys, football equipment, teddy bears, medical equipment. This material is distributed according to the needs, in various places to people who are likely to make good use of it.
The notebooks have been given, during our visits, to the School for Disabled people, to school children and students who can use such devices and to the headmaster of a school.
The teddy bears were quickly adopted by our little neighbors in our village. We still have some of them which we keep to give to children whose hospitalization we pay for. This little “friends” are always welcome during this difficult periods.
One football equipment and toys have been given to the school of Huey Krang, in Nan district where we went with the library team.
The medical equipment is going to be sorted out and given to certain persons whom we will teach how to use it.
Part of the equipment we brought back was given to a village near Luang Prabang after a flood which took place in September.
Here we want to thank once more the people who have supported our action by giving us all this material.
Flood in Luang Prabang
At the end of September, there was an important hurricane in Vietnam. A part of it has reached Laos, affecting a village near Luang Prabang.
The emergency plan was quickly organized, mainly by the *falangs” (foreigners) who live there.
On the 22nd of September, ASAS went to this village with other donors in order to give the material (food, clothes and first necessity objects) to the teachers of the village who will take care of the distribution among the inhabitants.
In this village, 13 persons have lost everything, there house having been destroyed by the storm. Forty others have lost their rice crop which is, moss of the time, their sole livelihood.
Helping a student
Onchan is 20 years old and comes from an ethnic minority, the Khamus who live in the mountains. Onchan has many projects for his future and knew that if he wanted to relalize them, he had to come into town, far from his family's village.
He arrived in Luang Prabang when he was 12. Now he’s just completed his first year of banking studies and speaks fluently English which he learned by himself. In order to pay for his studies, he works every day, after his classes, as a receptionist in a hotel.
We spend time with him during the weekends in order to teach him French. He already has a good level in speaking and also writing and reading. He doesn’t know yet what he is going to do later, maybe banker or touristic guide.
During his few free hours, he goes to the library; His next challenge "learn Chinese".
ASAS has decided support his school fees for next year.
We remember the games of our childhood
We live in a small village in the middle of the Lao community. In fact, we are the only “falangs” in the district. However we were warmly welcome and share marvelous experiences with our neighbours.
Life in our village is very animated, especially with children who, when they are back from school play together on the street.
However, we have noticed that there are very few toys. ASAS has decided to buy some: small trucks, books, coloring books, hoops, skipping ropes, footballs… which are now at their disposal in a chest un our garden.
You can imagine, animation is not missing.
English classes for village children
Through Onchan’s intermediary, we met his uncle and the children he takes care of. Like Onchan, his uncle has recently settled in town in order to find a job and carry on his studies.
He accomodates several children who come from his village so that they can go to school. They are nine in the same house but when the heart is big,, there is enough place for everybody. These children, aged between 9 and 14, want to learn English which is only taught in the secondary school.
Onchan organises classes for them with clients from his hotel. We are very pleased to go there every weekend.
During this time, english books, bought from the library, discussions, laughters and many smiles.
Creation of an informatic learning center
Laos is developing fast and new technologies take an important place in this process. The material and the lessons are however very expensive for most people (average monthly income of the country: CHF 100..--).
We met the boss of a computer company. After many discussions, we decide to teach his staff.
In fact his employees are very competent concerning hardware but their level for programming (Internet and other softwares) is not very high. In exchange, we wish to create a teaching center, allowing children to follow these classes.
On our program: learning of html language, graphical work on pictures, video montage, programming for visual basic, Excel, Word and, of course, for beginners, basic knowledges.
As they know the purpose of this future teaching, the staff show much motivation and commitment. In fact, once they are trained, they will become trainers themselves.
The Lao health system is very limited and medical treatments are only accessible for well-off persons. There are hardly or no insurances. When somebody needs medical care, he uses self-treatment, using plants or he asks a shaman.
Moreover hospitals are mostly far from the villages and you often need several walking hours to reach them. Sometimes the villagers club together to pay for the travel and the hospitalization. Every treatment (even in case of extreme emergency) is due in advance.
ASAS was asked to pay for an elderly person’s hospitalization. This person went to Luang Prabang hospital and, due to strong rainfalls, the roads to the village were impracticable. The family couldn’t reach Luang Prabang to bring the money (CHF 50.00). Thus this person couldn’t go to hospital.
Finally ASAS decided to pay for the treatment and didn’t ask to be paid back