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.
Nang Nui's Story
Nang Nui is an 11-year-old 5th grade pupil at Donkoi primary school in Donkoi village, in the Sisatanak district of Vientiane, the capital of Laos. She is the youngest of three sisters. The two older sisters are 15 and 13 years old and in grades 9 and 7. Nang Nui lives a 3-minute walk from the DK school. Her father is a construction worker and her mother is a cleaner at a small hotel in Donkoi.
Nang Nui has maintained good grades ever since grade 1. This year she was selected to compete with other students of grade 5 in the whole district of Sisatanak. She is now the head of the class and has certain duties at school. She is given a key of her classroom and comes to school early to open and clean the classroom. She also is in charge of raising the school flag every Monday morning and lowering it on Friday afternoon. She leads the assembly each afternoon at 3pm to organize the after school activity by distributing the clubs’ flags.
During her 5 years at Donkoi School, she has attended the After School Program very regularly from 3 to 4 pm every afternoon and now leads the 'Young Leader Group’ of this program.
At after school program Nui is good at all activities, everything from Lao textile weaving to mat weaving, from paper mache to rock painting. She can act and sing. She also can tell stories to young children and she loves writing stories and making 'books' with lots of drawings. On special occasion such as Mothers’ Day, Children 's Day and Older Persons’ Day, she draws and makes wall hanging posters with drawings and stories. She does all of these with passion.
She can teach every activity assigned to her at the After School Activity Program. At present, she is a regular weaving teacher and attended the dance class as well. When there are visitors she can't wait to interview them and write their stories for the bulletin board.
The Afterschool Activity Program, with informal and creative methods of teaching, certainly has helped Nui to have confidence and gave her a chance to learn so many more things. She is not only in the top of the class academically but also socially. She has so much potential as a well-rounded person.
Nang Nui's dream is to become a teacher when she grows up. She is not the materially poorest child but her parents are among the lower income families. Yet Nui always seems happy.
Children with so much potential like Nang Nui can grow to the fullest if adults give them a chance and nurture their abilities.
The social work supervisor, teachers and social work student volunteers at Donkoi Children Development Centers give Nui and many more children and youth this chance. DCDC has been supported by Global Ministries and Church World Service for the past 15 years. There are now 7 other centers in Vientiane and also one in Luang Prabang City, Laos.
Update: October 2013
One area of emphasis during the past year has been the Luangprabang Library, originally established in 1988. The Laos After School Program met there in its beginnings in 2004.
Another emphasis has been at the Kmu school, where the After School Program has had volunteers to help since 2010. In 2011, 16 students were assisted to continue on to their study at the secondary school. In turn they became volunteers helping their school do after school activities on weekends. The summer activity program continues. There is a volunteer who graduated from nursing school, Mr Sondy, who now works in a Hatpang village called Sousala in the village hospital.
In 2012, 18 students were provided bicycles with the support from Cindy Massey, Lao English Language Fellow. Cindy visited the school and decided to help support the purchase of the bicycles. Also this year an additional volunteer who graduated from University in Luangprabang (Ms. Chantha) has been added. She teaches at a small village in Phongsaly province.
In 2013 the After School Program at KokNgew primary school continues. Three volunteers graduated: Mr. Sompheng, Sengdao, and Onsy. Sengdao started working at Luangprabang Library in July. Sompheng is trying to find a job in Luangprabang. His dream is to help the library to do weekend activities. Onsy has returned to her village to find a job there.
The Library began doing “Book Tuk-Tuk” in September of 2012 with support from the Ruth Lao kid project. The Book Tuk-Tuk provides a book bag and teaches after school activities.
In 2013 the goals are to help ten schools give book bags, and to assist ten volunteers as they continue their education.
Learn One Way Funds are being Raised for the After School Program in Laos here.
Update: September 2018
The Association to Protect and Promote Good Lives to Children (APPREN) supports students in 15 public schools. APPREN is a Lao national nonprofit organization that coordinates with government development programs and other social organizations to help build the capacity of disadvantaged communities. Its mission is “to support, encourage and assist the provision of knowledge and skills to disadvantaged children and youth through study and training to apply knowledge and skills for better lives.” APPREN promotes children’s rights, gender equality, health, nutrition, hygiene, gardening, environmental protection, technical and vocational education and training, and offers afterschool activities including crafts, Lao classical dance, and sports. APPREN also works to combat gender based violence and human trafficking.
Garbage Separation and Educational Organic Gardening for School Sustainability
Trash collection and management is a growing problem in Laos. The government reports that the amount of solid waste produced in the capital, Vientiane, doubled from 2000-2008, but only 40-50 percent is collected by underfunded social services. Society is struggling to discover how to dispose of so much more nearly imperishable plastic, glass, and cans.
APPREN began a new program in 2018 that helps teachers and students in five schools clean up their cluttered grounds and promote sustainable crop farming. The organization has installed sets of three trash collection bins around the schools: compost, recycling, and other. Teachers and students are receiving education on what trash can go into each bin. Participants are also encouraged to implement this trash separation process in their homes.
Students have begun reusing discarded containers as planters for organic vegetable farming. They are receiving instruction and gaining practical experience growing produce at school so they can take that knowledge home to help supplement their family’s nutrition or sell their harvest for profit.
Donkoi Children Development Center (DCDC)
One of APPREN’s after school programs is Donkoi Children Development Center (DCDC). This organization is located in southern Vientiane near the border with Thailand. Afterschool activities include traditional rice farming, gardening, carpentry, weaving, basket making, pottery, reading, storytelling, creative writing, drawing, and traditional games. DCDC cultivates students’ interests and talents while promoting Lao traditional culture. The center also provides some financial assistance to students in challenging circumstances and those seeking vocational training not offered at DCDC.
DCDC director Silimanotham Halsana shares, “The goals are to prevent children from dropping out of school, taking drugs, delinquency, and becoming victims of trafficking.” Therefore, DCDC has begun explicitly addressing conflict in its curriculum through a three-year project entitled, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding towards Social Transformation.