The First Social Workers in Laos
On April 12, 2014, forty social work graduates celebrated the service and work of Xuyen Dangers, Global Ministries mission personnel, who will retire in May. Those present were part of the first four classes of social workers to graduate from the Social Work and Development Program at the National University of Laos, the only program of its kind in the country.
During most of her nineteen years serving Global Ministries and Church World Service in Laos, the creation of this program had been a dream. When Xuyen came to Laos, there were no professionally trained social workers. It took her ten years of work providing direct services at community centers like Buathong, Donkoi and Phonsinuan, as well as the Center of Medical Rehabilitation, before she was able to approach the National University in 2005 about the possibility of a training program. Xuyen recalls that she first introduced herself to Dr. Sayngamang, the former Vice President of the university, who then connected her with Dr. Phouth Simalavong. Xuyen remembers that after seeing the work in which she was involved, Dr. Simalavong said, “Let us make your dream come true.” Xuyen responded that she was willing to do the work necessary to make a school of social work a reality.
In 2005, with the permission of the Minister of Education and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Xuyen became the social work advisor at the National University and in January 2006, the first students entered the program. Today, less than a decade later, more than 400 students have been trained, many of them scholarship recipients through Global Ministries and Church World Service. Because of this program, these dedicated women and men are working to strengthen their communities for a better future. Xuyen prepares to leave full-time mission work, we celebrate with partners and the people of Laos her service and ministry, knowing that the impact of her work will continue to make a difference in the lives of many.
Xuyen Dangers is a social work supervisor in Laos who trains Social work university students as interns in Donkoi Children Development Center.