The Children’s Development Centers in Laos
The Laos After School Program sites serve as child development centers providing after school programs to help keep children from dropping out of school. Leaving school at early ages often leads to many problems such as drinking, taking drugs, being lured to Thailand to work (human trafficking problems), or ending up in heavy construction work or as child labor in manufacturing.
The after school program is run by center staff and volunteers in partnership with public school teachers. Children participating in after school programs have more chance to develop to their full potential than those who do not participate. The activities are fun and practical like weaving, carpentry, reading, storytelling, gardening, recycling, drama, and study.
The local youths of these villages also have the chance to learn the importance of volunteer work. They work in the centers helping little children in primary school to learn those activities mentioned above. Many of these youth now receive scholarship funding to go to the University to study Sociology and Social Development. These youth will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Social Development. Without the intervention of the centers they would not have been in the University nor in social work courses. The centers also serve as practicum placements for Bachelor’s students in their fourth and fifth years.
The first center at Donkoi is now the learning center where many other school teachers from other provinces go to learn about child development. Our volunteers and staff were also asked to go to the provincial schools to do workshops on after school programs with teachers there.
Funds for these programs are being used for carpentry tools, weaving thread and looms, books, materials to fix roofs and mend fences, school supplies (the government has no budget for supplies for schools), sport equipment, school uniforms, and social or medical services for some children. Children also learn life skills in vital areas such as HIV/AIDS, reproduction health, human trafficking, and gender discrimination.
The Donkoi center celebrated its tenth anniversary and ten years of child development work. The theme was I have potential, give us a chance.
On behalf of all the children, youth, and parents of children, as well as those who have grown into mature and good people, thank you for your all care, love, and support.