by Peter Banwell, Laos Educational Opportunities Trust (LEOT) Director and GoPhil Founder’s Circle Member

Education Shaping Destiny

Having been a visitor to Laos since 2008 and a trustee of LEOT since 2009, I am seldom surprised when I visit a rural community. Houysae was to be the exception.

Set on a hill accessed by a dirt road 6 miles long, Houysae is the most traditional of Hmong ethnic villages with palm houses, no electricity or phone and the most basic of water systems. A car is a rarity in the village. The lucky ones have a motorbike or a simple Chinese tractor for working the fields.

A new road linking Laos to Thailand has made Houysae accesible even if its only for 9 or 10 months a year. The monsoon still leaves the village in isolation for the balance of the year.

Earlier this year LEOT was asked to visit the village and help to replace its dilapidated school buildings. The Kindergarten was about 14 years old with a leaking roof and termite damaged walls. It was dark and dismal and far from being a suitable environment for the youngest members of the community.

A Kindergarten for the Future

LEOT accepted the challenge to bring about change by rebuilding the Kindergarten with a new roof, brick walls, and many new windows. The building was to be finished with plaster and painted to give a warm and vibrant environment for young children.

Thanks to the support from our friends in America, GoPhil, the dream became a reality in the spring of this year when the project started under the watchful eye of Bounniew, LEOT’s Community Manager. Materials were sourced just in time as Laos was closed down by the pandemic. With the help of local builders and village people, the work was completed at the end of June.

In the next few days the school will reopen for its excited children to share and a new future made possible by friends from afar.