We have been overwhelmed by the number of urgent requests from various villages across Nambak District for permanent water supplies, significant repairs to existing ones (damage caused by the August monsoons), water filters (over 1200 in the last month), and school support for the most part. We received 10 requests yesterday alone!
As we continue to review and summarize the requests, I am happy to report that we have made significant headway with several completed projects this season. Here are some highlights from a diverse group of people who visited us in early February to assist with the distribution of water filters to four villages in four days.
On Day 1 of our field trip, 200 water filters were distributed to Ban Xiengda, the same location the Ladner Rotary group sponsored the constrution of a permanent water supply for this large village. There is our team at the very back.
Our Amazing Group of Volunteers and Donors. Clockwise from left; Siphan, Steve, Fabrizio (Italy), Beau (New Westminster, BC), Ricardo (Italy), Chris (Ladner) Kevin (Saskatchewan Canada), Diana (Ladner, British Columbia, Canada), Mike (Ladner Team Lead), Serena and Massimo (Italy), Penny (Ladner), Dawn (New Westminster), Kathy (Delta, British Columbia), Kirsten (Denmark). Missing from the photo is Roland (Brampton, Ontario, Canada). He was behind the lens.
Villagers listen intently during the training session. At the end of the session several villagers were picked out of the crowd to answer specific questions and were given a Tshirt if they got the answer right. Roland is behind the camera.
After a Baci and celebration, we continued to Nong Khiaw for the night and then headed to Mokok, to distribute water filters and to do the official handover of Rotary Funded Water Project to the village. In this village, we built a dam, about 5 1/2 km of pipe, a large water tank and ran water to Namduen secondary school and village of 78 families. This was a special treat for our guests of honour.
What a reception! All 290 students awaited our arrival clapping in unison as we arrived. It was an emotional greeting.
Performers in traditional dress were waiting for us. Others presented flowers and the elders greeted as we entered the large tarped area.
Village Heads, Representatives and families. We can just imagine the number of hours they spent preparing for our arrival. Water, the key to life is no small matter.
Students rushed to get a seat. There wasn’t enough room for everyone but they sure squeezed in.
Several performances, lots of food (some of it edible) and wonderful people. Note the centre front dancer in her sock feet.
Soccer, rattan balls and nets were offered to the school director. Each of our team members were given a handmade scarf, as a small token of their appreciation. Thank You Rotary for allowing us to make this happen!! We also distributed water filters to every family.
It was a long, fulfilling, emotional day. Next up…Houay Phoung.
This small village also went to extra efforts to show their gratitude. They had heard about the miracle filters and had long requested our assistance. His wife was likely preparing a meal for us.
It is not uncommon for some of the villagers to decline getting into the pictures. They are afraid that they will lose their soul through the camera lens. For each distribution, Siphan carefully explains to everyone that this is not the case. Still, some remain skeptical.
These sweet chidren waited all morning so they could perform for us….and it was very hot!
Roland Drake was happy to return to Laos after a several year hiatus and thrilled to donate school supplies to every student in the school.
On our last day we stopped in the village of Thong Lom to teach about hygiene and distribute filters to every family. These filters were donated to the school. It was a weekend so there were only a couple wearing school uniforms.
It was the end of a long fruitfull trip for our guests and so we celebrated over dinner and shared our versions of what we had seen.
We compared Baci strings over a fountain after dinner. Can you guess which hand belongs to Siphan based on skin colour? Many of us can only dream of having darker skin tones
Finally, one of our annual visitors to Laos wrote a poem about her feelings and experiences in Laos, as she does each year. This one really captured the true essence. Apologies for the formatting below;
“Mekong Mists and Dreams 2019
Caught again in the lure of Luang Prabang
The sun has risen and set once more,
On these travelers that dare to step thru Laos door.
Foreigners indeed from Denmark Italy and Canadian soil
Friends now, friends now forever loyal
We are but novices here in these ancients parts..
Laos smiled to itself knowing it would steal our hearts.
We have worked hard together, laughed and made the work play,
Bringing clean water and a desire for others to have a better day.
What Laos has given us can never be repaid.
The memories of ebony and crimson jackets of the Khmu
The smiles of the elders, the sparkling brown eyes of the child.
The towering mountains, the brown Mekong rushing wild.
Imagine having lived your entire life and never having seen these jungle mists rise
As you waken to the temple drums …oh so very wise.
We must turn again to the West..our homes and families are calling,
But we have family here now as well, but this family is as a Dream
And we will live in this dream forever.
Diana Cabott 2019″