After School Programs
Global Ministries, through its relationships with partners in Laos and the coordination of Global Ministries social worker, Xuyen Dangers, helped create Community Development Centers in four rural communities on the outskirts of Vientiane in Laos over the last ten years. In these centers, After School Programs are implemented to serve local children. These After School Programs in Laos include educational, creative, cultural and service activities. The participating children are active in health and human-rights oriented educational programs, crafts and art, and capacity building.
The After School Program became so popular that the grassroots educators and leaders coming out of the programs needed and sought additional training in order to continue to grow and enhance the program and their own leadership skills. To answer this need many of the leaders and educators in the After School Program are being trained as social workers. Global Ministries has provided scholarships to 15 students to attend the National University of Laos Bachelor of Sociology and Social Development courses at the Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS) since 2005. Xuyen Dangers, Global Ministries staff in Laos, has served as a social work advisor, introduced curriculum, and taught at FSS. Global Ministries also provided a scholarship to one university lecturer to study in the Philippines and the recipient returned with a Master of Social Service and Development. Other lecturers were funded with Global Ministries assistance to attend short courses in the Philippines on International Community Development.
The Social Work Program and the After School Program continue to network and grow into new plans and projects. For instance, a new program was started with six Global Ministries scholarship recipients. They worked in the village of Kmu to conduct an afterschool program. They fixed up the restroom facilities and facilitated a workshop for volunteers. Some of the volunteers went to Donkoi, one of the first Child Development Centers, for further training and returned to organize a fair for the school at the end of summer camp. The fair was enthusiastically attended by many parents. There is also a bicycle project for 15 sixth-grade students to ride into town to study. These 15 all are young leaders of the Kmu School.
Because of the success of these programs that work together for the betterment of children, their families, and the community, additional workshops and training sessions have been conducted, mostly at Donkoi. Workshops at Donkoi have been given for as many as 70 children and 30 adult teachers. Visitors from the Lao Buddhist Association, which included a large group from Mynamar of 13 monks and two nuns, attended the Thai Spirit Education Movement. They came to look for an alternative education option, something unique, and they were introduced to the programs of the Donkoi Child Development Center. Another youth training session was held on the rights of children and leadership for youth from seven centers including two from the Xiengkhoang and Kahmuan provinces.
Another area of emphasis for the combined programs is practicum work with hospitals and the national rehabilitation centers. Youth volunteers and young leaders of Donkoi and Donsavat schools come to Sethathirat hospital near Donkoi every Saturday to distribute books, coloring books, toys and puzzles. The volunteers perform as clowns, do theater, tell stories, dance, and sing for patients, caregivers, doctors, nurses, and cleaning staff — an average of 70 people watch or participate in these events. In addition, 35 to 40 third and fourth year Social Work students signed up to volunteer in the hospital or the rehabilitation center. These volunteers go every Saturday and hope to add additional days later. Since the patients have nothing to do besides have their check-ups with the doctors or get physical therapy, they are very eager to do something. The volunteers are teaching them skills such as door-mat weaving which they can use to increase their income. They also spend time reading newspapers, books, telling stories, putting on puppet shows, and teaching other arts and crafts projects.
Recognizing the need for a more eco-friendly world, fifty university volunteers began working on an organic farm project. The volunteers made mud blocks by mixing mud and water and rice husks to build a center. The farm is used for educational purposes to teach organic farming, natural health, and ecotourism for environmental protection and to preserve local customs. Three thousand mud blocks were produced in one month by the volunteers and the actual building was done in one weekend by 60 students and local high school volunteers of Donsangphai School. The farm owner is also a leader at the Donsangphai After School Program. Funds from Global Ministries helped this project become a reality.
Global Ministries welcomes gifts for the work in Laos in order to accompany partners in their next activities and new initiatives of partnership and community development.