Hat Kham Village School

This village school has a way to go before completion.  Among other issues, the farmers are in their fields burning their crops in preparation for the new planting season before the rains come.  Smoke fills the air, one nostrils and lungs causing lots of respiratory issues.  In time I hope this will change but with no support to help them curb the habit, there isn’t a lot that can be done.

The school is about 40% complete.

We are crossing our fingers hoping that we can get the project moving forward. The last thing we want is for the villagers to get sick by working during the monsoon rains like last year.




Had Chanh and Pha Yong Toilets

As a follow up to the completion of Had Chanh School last year, we promised to replace the temporary toilet that we had constructed for the school.  And so we did.

You can see the difference between the old and the new. The plumbing is all set but unfortunately there is no water for the village at this time of year (next years project I suspect).

Front View

Handing over the keys to the Village Chief after a discussion to the villagers about hygiene and how to keep the place clean.

A big thanks from the villagers!

And a Big thank you to Peter Gorham and our other private sponsors. Cop Chai Lai Lai!

Pha Yong Village Toilets are well on their way – there are two more being built this year with 8 left to go.

This toilet now has a roof on it, and parging is almost complete. It is expected to be completed within 2 weeks.




Nong Boakham and Meung Luang (District) Hospital

During my last visit to the villages south of Luang Prabang to get updates on the projects there, I was surprised with the progress of Nong Boakham School.  It had been only two weeks since I had been there last and they still had some ground levelling to do before the construction could start!

Pretty Fast eh?

Front View - we were hoping to raise enough for 3 rooms to start since they have 3 teachers but I still need close to $9000 for that - hopefully we can raise it in time for August semester.

The day after we took this picture, the windows and doors arrived and they expected to have the roof on this week - Now THAT is fast.

Pretty talented 20 year old. He was responsible for parging - excellent job!

Meung Luang Hospital was a treat to walk into.  When it comes to water you couldn’t imagine happier people – Phosavanh was the same. It is so fulfilling to see this too.  Note the birthing room.  Those of you will remember our thoughts when we first saw it – it was disgusting.  Now look at it.

What a difference! I didn't think it would ever look this clean.

Running Water, new plumbing, new tiling around the sink and a new floor. Thank you to the Rotary Club of Oshawa - you are Buddha in the eyes of the villagers.

We ran water outside the hospital too. Still have to paint the latrine, and put a lockable cover over the well.

PhonSavanh Village – Water Project Update

Thanks to the generous support from the Rotary Club of Whitby Sunrise, we have completed about 90% of the project to bring water to the village.  As mentioned one of my previous posts, just trekking to the water source was difficult at best.  We built a dam, ran several km’s of pipe, built a water tank for the village and 4 taps for this village of 55 families.  During the last visit they had only 2 of the taps working because they were still waiting for the water tank to cure before using it, so they bypassed the tank to get some water directly to those taps.  One unusual discovery was that the water pressure slowed significantly by this old tree and it was blamed by the villagers on the tree spirit.  It didn’t take long to figure out what the problem was (the pipe took a significant turn uphill at that point instead of a gradual slope) but to ensure we didn’t interfere with the culture of the village,  a special ceremony was arranged to please the tree spirit (along with the necessary redirection of the pipe of course).

The Remote Highlands Village of PhonSavanh

The tough trek to the water source for PhonSavanh - actually this area wasn't so bad.

The source of the water for the village - doesn't look like much! Plans for a new dam are underway in this picture.

The water source sure doesn't look like it will be sufficient but who am I to judge.

During our last visit! It is hard to believe isn't it? the two showers are going non stop.

They sure seem to enjoy the water! The people odour was gone too.

The Water Tank

The Tree Spirit slowed the flow of water at this point??

Following the newly laid pipe to the water source

The water flow coming from the newly constructed dam - what a surprise!

The DAM! Hard to believe that that little trickle of a stream could capture this much water - and with the showers going full time.

The villagers Thank You from the bottom of their hearts. Special Thanks to the Rotary Clubs of Whitby Sunrise, Toronto and Scarborough and so many individual donors.

A Closer View of the names of our generous donors.

See the line up for the showers?

Even the cow waits patiently for it's turn

Kids having fun with a cut-out bottle to use as a slide.


Sponsored Students

We finally have pictures of all 17 primary school student, sponsored by some really generous people.  Three days before classes started in August/September last year was the deadline for the students to enrol.  At the same time, school supplies were provided to the school in Hat Kham located about 1 1/2 hours by boat north of Nong Khiaw and later on, in Nong Ein situated just minutes from Nong Khiaw.  The issue was that while pictures were taken of all the students, we didn’t know which ones were the ones we sponsored.  Every time we went back to Hat Kham we found a few more of the kids but right up until the last week, I was still missing pictures of three kids – Now we have them – yeaahhhh!

The next issue I still have to work on is who is who – I have a list in Lao language and 17 names that have to be translated first.  As I find the name to go with the student, I will repost this blog entry.


Hat Kham Student

Hat Kham Student

Hat Kham Student

Hat Kham Student

Hat Kham Student

Hat Kham Student

Hat Kham Student

Hat Kham Student

Hat Kham Student

Hat Kham Student

Hat Kham Student

Hat Kham Student

Nong Ein Student (orphaned)

Nong Ein Student (orphaned)

Hat Kham Student

Hat Kham Student

Hat Kham Student

I will endeavour to get the names translated and assigned to the right students!


The First Bicycle Distribution in Laos!

The last three weeks has been a race against time.  I had been trying to get the projects to the stage where I felt comfortable leaving them.  With the exception of one project, they are all 70% finished or higher AND almost all of the materials have been safely delivered on those projects.  Even better news is that 6 out of the 7 projects will be completed well before the rainy season begins.  The last thing I wanted to do was be the reason for so many workers getting sick while working during the rainy season.

First of all, it was rather unfortunate that Lisa McKoy from the Gravenhurst Rotary Club was not able to visit Laos this year due to timing and a miserable cold.  Lisa is my mentor in many ways and with others was responsible for starting up the Rotary Wheels for Learning program.  This year she distributed over 1000 bicycles to students, allowing them to get to school and back.  With her mentor-ship and thanks to the Rotary Club of Gravenhurst we were able to distribute an additional 50 bicycles to two villages in northern Laos, one group of 20 to a school about 1 hour south of Luang Prabang and another 30 distributed to Pha Yong Village about 4 hours north of Luang Prabang.  I was able to negotiate a really good rate for the bicycles, in fact better than I imagined and the cost ended up being well below budget!    Here are some highlites;

Student offering sincere respect and thanks after signing for his bike.

This was quite an exciting time for the villagers.  The village chief, school master, parents and kids were all present.

The kids listening as I (and the schoolmaster) talk about taking good care of their bicycles.

Lots of happy kids. Each bicycle included basket, lock and space on the back for an extra child where needed.

These next pictures were taken in ViengKham Village where the bicycles were staged for final assembly and distributed for Pha Yong Village.

The students put their best signature forward in anticipation.

30 bicycles all ready to go.

The Village Mascot

Happy Kids!

All ready to go but wait...Pha Yong Village is the other way!

Lots of Happy Faces.

Thank you Rotary Club of Gravenhurst!!! We CAN and DO make a difference.