Hope for Keomany, Child Development Centers, Laos

Hope for Keomany, Child Development Centers, Laos

Keomany was born the second child in a family of seven children. Her father works for a water company. He earns around $50 per month. Her mother is a housewife who works for other people when there is work. Her family has no farm.

Keomany was born the second child in a family of seven children. Her father works for a water company. He earns around $50 per month. Her mother is a housewife who works for other people when there is work. Her family has no farm.

Is There a Hope for Keomany? Is she a role model for other young women?

Keomany’s story is typical of children in Laos who drop out of school due to poverty. Keomany left school in 2000 at the age of 15. She only finished grade eight. In Champasak she worked as a maid for a year and sold food off and on for a year while staying with a friend. At 17, she went to Thailand to work for her relative who married to a Thai man but she only stayed in Bangkok for five months.  In 2004, she went to Donkoi village in Vientiane, Laos, to live with her distant relative whom she called aunt. Her aunt introduced her to the Donkoi Children Development Center (DCDC). First she heard that the Donkoi center has English classes, which she wanted to attend even though the class is only meant for DCDC volunteers. Keomany determined to learn English so she asked if she could just sit in and also stated she would like to be a volunteer at the DCDC if we accept her.

Seeing her hard work and her determination to learn, Keomany was accepted after a three-month trial period. Keomany was assigned to be in the school library to learn basic library work. She has also helped out with everything that is offered at the DCDC and the local Donkoi elementary like weaving, garbage management, tree planting, gardening, composting, theater, and storytelling. She attended workshops on HIVAIDS, gender, the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child -UNCRC, child labor, child participation research, and social work.

In May 2005, Keomany was selected to be one of the three young Lao women to go to Thailand to study Leadership and Trafficking issues at the Development Education Program for Daughters and Community for one year. Now Keomany understands more about how children are being lured to human trafficking. One of the main reasons is that they drop-out of school at early age. At DCDC, Keomany taught child rights and taught that “children should go to school.”

Also at DCDC, there are three youth who have now enrolled at the Bachelor of Sociology and Social Development course at the National University of Laos. These youth have inspired Keomany. She now dreams of studying at the university. How can she reach that dream? First she has to finish high school.

So in May 2007, Keomany asked for help so she could pursue formal education and the DCDC gave her the chance with a small scholarship. Keomany finished the program in September 2007 with a High School Diploma.

Her next dream is to go to the National University starting in September 2008.

Keomany is now living with her aunt’s family of six in Donkoi village. Her aunt works from 8 AM to 9 PM selling groceries in the local market while her husband is away. Keomany wakes up at 5 AM to steam sticky rice for the family and prepare three children to go to school. At 4:30 PM, she comes back from the DCDC, and helps prepare dinner and helps the children with homework.

Keomany walks to the DCDC from home. It only takes 15 minutes to walk but she has done it consistently for three years, as a regular volunteer with a small stipend and has learned everything that is offered there. DCDC has just given her a bicycle as a reward for her hard work, her responsible actions and ethical personality at work, and her determination for education.

Will Keomany achieve her next goal of becoming a University graduate in Social Development so she can help herself, her family, and help others in Laos to break the poverty cycle?  Wait and see.  We can’t help but admire a young, poor woman who is strong and determined like Keomany.  Keomany could be the role model for young women.

Global Ministries supports five children centers like DCDC where there are many others like Keomany.

More about this project: After School Programs

Edited from story by Xuyen Dangers:  Office of Resource Development
Global Ministries
P.O. Box 1986
Indianapolis, IN  46206
Tel:  (317) 713-2555
Fax:  (317) 635-4323
Email:  gifts@dom.disciples.org

March 2008