It has been a while since our last update and I attribute that to poor internet here. I paid $140 US for fast internet (per month for 3 months) and it was fine for about 5 weeks and now I am lucky if I can even log on.
We managed to return to Nong Boakham for the final round of filters for the village. Those who have read my previous entry about this village wil remember that not everyone was there to receive their filters, and several had been broken in transit. So we were finally able to complete the village.
With the arrival of our two newst visitors from The Rotary Club of Scarborough, we were excited for our next adventure, Joan and John have been a delight to be with and while Joan is well seasoned, working in third world countries, I think it has been an eye-opener for John in some respects.
We started with an easy day by taking them to Kwangsi Water Falls and Bear Reserve, just 45 minutes from Luang Prabang. Along the way though we stopped at a secondary school to review there request for additional rooms. We looked at the sight and they had already installed the posts and roof. Their request was for $4,000 US to finish the school. Upon closer inspection, we found a lot of issues with their request. First, the posts were very small, and the roof trusses and support beams were much too thin to hold the roof during the heavy monsoon rains so we would need to double up on the wood to give it stability. The other issue was that there was no overhang to speak of…roof overhangs of at least 2 1/2 metres are standard with every school. Despite our concerns, we spent the next day reviewing their request and putting together a full materials lists. Our estimates were just over $18,000 US without consideration for school furniture or the material needed to shore up the roof. We would also have to either rebuild the roof or construct a separate overhang. In summary, I really don’t want to put our name on something that I consider to be substandard. Their reason for putting in a much lower price was because they couldn’t attract any NGO’s to assist them.
After dinner and a good nights rest for our guests, we took them to the UXO Office (Unexploded Ordinance Museum). To see the movie, still pulls at my heart strings. The secret war was such a disaster for everyone and an embarassment for the US. Afterwards we headed back to my house and sorted through all the goodies our guests had brought, in preparation for our trip. Here are just a few of the items.
The following morning we started out 4 day, 3 night road trip to various villages. Nothing is easy to get to of course so we took our time. Our first stop was to visit a kindergarten in Phonsavanh and to distribute uniforms for a rather large team. I have video too.
One of the trip highlites and reasons that Joan and John came was to teach feminine hygiene and general hygiene to the secondary school girls. During secondary and high school, many of the girls drop out, often because the girls are embarassed during that special time of the month. As cheap as they are, many can’t afford to buy the hygiene pads in these rural villages so we decided to start a test project for a year in hopes that more girls will attend school and the dropout rate will fall, especially if we provide the pads for them (on a quarterly basis).
We also walked around the back of the school to take a peek at the dormitories. It is a rural village to begin with but many come from even smaller villages to live and go to school.
We continued up to complete distribution of our last water filters and then to Katang Xieng for an inspection.
Tonight we will take our guests to a Lao BBQ. That should be interesting.