A day to remember
Xuyen Dangers – Laos
It was the Easter Sunday! It was a beautiful sunshiny day at 8:30 at Kung’s restaurant in Simuong, Phyvat Village, Vientiane, Lao PDR. It was also Dr. Leila’s 54th birthday and the opening of the new CWS supported center: The Tammakhung Art Center!
The batik Easter egg was presented to Leila by Xuyen for her birthday. Leila auctioned them off: the first egg sold for 7 US Dollars. Then from there the auction and donation all together gave the new center 560,000 kip (56 US Dollars). The visitors who were present at Kung’s restaurant for the breakfast birthday party later toured the center. The visitors included Dr. Bill Tuffin, Bob and Pat from Canada, Chris and Linda from California, and Leila and Brian Watt. They saw how it was renovated with skylights, new stove, new sink, even the bathroom and the bedrooms have skylights. That made every room much brighter and cleaner. Everyone expressed their wholehearted support.
Then Xuyen praised the 15 children for their drawing. Youme, Dr. Leila and Xuyen played with the children. Xuyen taught them her favorite ‘Noi diew’ song then asked the girl who wrote the song in Lao language to write it on a poster. We then practiced it with music. Mak, the 12-year-old boy, loves the guitar enthusiastically played. The guitar was even bigger than him. Others beat on the drum. Xuyen began to discover their talents. They could not wait to tell Xuyen what each one could do. Here is what she found – 2 playing the guitar, 2 writing music, 1 singing, 2 dancing, and 3 drummers. Xuyen immediately noted these talents down on paper.
Then it was time to name the center. Each had a chance to suggest a name. At the end the name TAMMKHUNG had the most votes. Then Xuyen saw a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. Xuyen saw some leadership and dynamism, so they were ready to tentatively have an election to elect the leader and vice leader. Mimi, the oldest girl, was elected to be the leader. She can write very well. Mak, the guitar boy, is the vice leader as he seems most active, loves to talk or ‘volunteer’ others.
We then moved to decide to come to the center on Saturday and Sundays from 9 to 12 p.m. Xuyen never missed to give them some homework. Each will make a small poster sign for the new center.
WELCOME TO TAMMAKHUNG Center
Open Saturday and Sunday 9 to 12 p.m.
We tentatively decided on activities for the center that included drawing, reading, story telling, music, singing, writing, playing games, and collecting garbage.
Then time for the group photograph. The most touching moment for the adult helpers today was this moment. On the way out three older girls presented us with frangipani leis! What a thoughtful surprise! Xuyen was where they had gone for such a long time.
This thoughtfulness will definitely be the most memorable of this little center that is about to be born. All had a good time and looked forward to the next Saturday!
The first case of CEDC (children in especially difficult circumstances) – On the way home a parent of a drug abused teenager awaited Xuyen. This was a very poor family with five children from ages 13 to 21, three boys and two girls. All dropped out of school and the third boy, 16 years old, who was a senior in high school until he was found taking drugs. He had just been arrested and now was in the Somsanga center. The father and mother are just 39 years old. The father just had a motorbike accident and is now jobless and walks on crutches. The mother is a vendor.
Xuyen asked the mother what is her wish – she said for her 13-year-old boy to go back to school. Xuyen asked why he could not be in school. She said he had no money to pay tuition. I asked her how much she needed and she said 50,000 kip (5 US Dollars). I asked her if I could help her with 50,000 kip if her child would be able to go back to school. She said he dropped out 6 months ago and he needs to wait for next school year, which begins in September. Xuyen said if he begins to go the new Tammakhung center to do activities with the other children, the next year he would be helped with 50,000 kip so he could go back to school.
In the meantime, since Xuyen is working in the Drug Rehabilitation Center Somsanga, she said she would check on the 16-year-old boy at SSN. Parents seem happy that there is someone interested in the problems they are facing and who show empathy and support.
What a day full of social services and child rights put into practice and fun – a wonderful birthday celebration! THANK YOU Dr. Leila for your birthday and Dr. Melanie for organizing the Birthday party.
Xuyen Dangers serves Laos/Vietnam. She serves as a consultant for development in Laos and Vietnam.