With 58 presentations completed and fundraising concluded for the most part, this year’s projects are finally underway. It is hard to believe this is our 11th year!
First off, are a number of our secondary school students shown below. What used to be a single point of distribution and purchasing of uniforms, is now fairly widespread across three districts. Our organization currently supports 13 secondary students and two university students. 4 of these students should graduate this year, including a university student.
School supplies include school uniforms, pencils, pens, rulers, erasers, notebooks, backpacks, along with school fees. There were also a couple of bicycles provided this year to students who needed new ones.
During the last few days, team members delivered 362 water filters to small trucks that were waiting at designated drop-off points, since the roads to the villages could not handle the size of the big truck.
Villagers were delayed in their arrival to their pickup point, so guess who had to unload the truck? Fortunately they arrived before offload was complete
Filters were delivered for the villages of Keaup (Chomphet District), Makphouk and Phathong (Nambak District) and Mokdo (Ngoi District)
The field trip also included 2 new villages to review their needs. Their requests seemed like fairly simple repairs but it was necessary to visit the villages for confirmation. The first village was Phoung Jong who had requested 500 metres of pipe. As it turns out, the river had dried up and they really needed a new water tank, new dam (sourcing from a larger river) and 5km of pipe. $48,000 was a lot higher than what was stated so it will have to wait until next year. Fortunately, there is a river nearby that the villagers are currently using and although it is more work for the families, it will be sufficient. Here are few pictures taken in the village.
Construction of a tobacco drying tower
Villagers mixing mud and long grass for the covering of the structure…looks like fun!
Once the long grass is heavily encased in wet mud, it is hung over the crossbeams and molded into the layer below.
Finished structure – there are now 6 in the village.
Almost every village hut has a loom and most women were busily making scarves for sale at the Luang Prabang Night Market
Cotton drying, in preparation for making thread for the scarves
Current source of water for the village. This is where the villagers take baths and wash their clothes. Notice the small square, that the two men are standing beside.
Close-up of the small box. It is a tiny well located beside the river to partially filter the dirty river water. the water in the box is about 16 inches deep and serves all the families in the village for cooking and drinking water.
The second village that has requested assistance is the village of Nammong. It is on the main road heading towards Thailand. The request was for 1.5km of pipe and the necessary connectors. The village consists of 3 parts, located across an 8km stretch. It is the lower part that needed replacement pipe, along with some new pipe and also for approximately 50 villagers that never had water. That can be done with the current budget.
It is difficult to see with the bright sun. This was just one of the many cracks in the pipe where considerable water was leaking
Another broken section of the pipe, beside the road, leading to the village
This location is at the bottom of the mountain and has been wrapped many times in an attempt to stop the leakage
The field trip was a particularly challenging one with so many villages and attempts to get the villagers together at designated times and places. For the above village, there was a long wait while the upper part of the village celebrated the arrival of electricity to that part of the village, where there was a large party atmosphere and lots of drinking before they could meet with the team members. This was a constant challenge throughout the trip. By the time we made it to the last village for the day, it was already nightfall.
The villagers listened intently to our coordinator, as he read off the details of the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding). Of course everyone there unanimously supported the requirements. This pictures show the chiefs taking copious notes. The MOU’s were signed in English and Lao. With signatures still required from the District Hygiene Office and Engineer, the chiefs agreed to get the final signatures so the project can be started to provide a permanent water supply to the village. The largest portion of this project is being sponsored the Rotary Clubs in District 7010 (South Central Ontario)
The last village visit was to the village of Sandluangnoi, located way off the main road. It is hard to imagine and likely impossible to make it to the village during rainy season.
The views were spectacular during the slow climb up the mountainous terrain
Arrival to the Village. It was a good reminder of why this village was selected over others. Severe poverty was evident from the first view.
Closer view of some of the huts
This is another village that has three parts to it – the overall chief in the main village, the second chiefs located in the other parts of the village, located km’s away. This picture is of the home of the second chief who is Hmong, has 5 children and is 27 years old….typical mud floor. Due to their extreme poverty, they felt bad that they couldn’t offer meat at lunch. As such, we were only too happy to provide a few cans of fish which they devoured quickly.
Meeting in the same room with the villagers to discuss the content of the MOU. There was unanimous agreement of course.
We were invited to see their relatively new schoolhouse. Most adults in this village cannot read or write. The only teacher, now teaches grades 1-3…when he shows up.
It is obvious the students don’t go to school when it rains, with all the holes in the roof.
Inside the classroom – there are three blackboards, one for each grade.
With a mix of Hmong and Khmu, everyone gets along well. Without the proper education however, it is a long road to bring the children to a level of education that is in tune with the rest of the country. They sure need a proper school.
This village water project is primarily sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of District 7070 (Southern Ontario) and Private Donors.
In two days, the team will be testing out a new type of water filter, thanks to a generous donor from the Rotary Club of Orillia, to see if they can withstand the rigors of village life. It will be tested in the village of Nalea with 52 families, located in Chomphet District, fairly close to Luang Prabang so we can keep a close eye on them.