RCM has been renovating schools in the Luang Prabang Province of Laos since 2012. We have completed 3 primary schools and are now in the process of raising funds for a fourth. Often a school renovation also involves the provision or renovation of a toilet block and the provision of hand washing facilities to improve the hygiene an sanitation for the students and teachers.
Ban Heu Yen Village School
Laos is very poor and still suffers from the damage inflicted as part of the “hidden” side of the Vietnam war. It is landlocked and has limited resources apart from some minerals, the wonderful Mekong river and some much-depleted teak forests.
The people are mostly Buddhist, live in villages and often are illiterate and innumerate. Like all people everywhere, they want a better future for their children and they see that better future in education.
But there is a very great need for more schools and the 2012 project was a start to redress this by building the school at Ban Heu Yen. Rather than use our own members to do the building, which would deprive locals of their place, we provided money and engaging local people for the building. Our group provided inputs unique to a group of Aussies – mostly Rotarians. We actually did some physical work in the form of painting the entire school, inside and out, in sweltering heat. We also put on a mime show relating to the importance of hand-washing. The children had absolutely zero English language and watched the large foreigners with amazement and much mirth. The connection didn’t need spoken language! The actual money for the project was painlessly extracted from the fee charged for the tour.
The success of our 2012 Ban Heu Yen project – now known as Laos School Project #1 - led to more projects in 2013. We are renovating three classrooms at a high school (Laos School Project #2) at Hue Kang near to Luang Prabang and adding also a small kitchen, dining room and ablutions block – Laos School Project #3. Project #2 has attracted a Rotary District Grant, while Project #3 has been registered with RAWCS and thus attracts donations which are tax deductable for the donor.
School rooms add to 7 usable rooms (nb for 550 children) and it is our plan (Project #2) to renovate some unusable facilities in the form of three classrooms of concrete and timber. This project is to run through 2013 calendar year with expected completion in November – in time for a hand-over ceremony attended by another group of travellers – again Rotarians and Non.
The High School at Hue Kang caters for students aged between about 10 and 16. About 50 students live too far from Hue Kang to be able to commute so they have to board. Boarding accommodation was extremely poor for many years but has recently been upgraded to at least providing dry, secure accommodation for boys and girls. However cooking and dining is still in woven bamboo huts. Cooking is in earthen holes inside these huts.
Project #3 will address this problem through provision of new kitchen and dining facilities plus clean and functional ablution facilities.
Ban Houe Tout Primary School
This is Project #4 and was completed during 2014. Ban Houe Tout is a village of 240 inhabitants. It is not shown on any maps but can be found using Google Earth if you know where to look. This village had a two room primary school in very poor condition and we renovated the same two rooms to concrete and timber functionality
Ban Boum Aor Primary School
Ban Huey Tan Primary School
We are now in the process of fundraising to renovate a primary school in the "Minority" village of xxx which is across the Mekong from Luang Prabang. We hope to start work on this project in 2017 and take a tour group there for the official opening ceremony for the new school in early 2018.