The featured Laos community development project is based in the rural village of Baan Ka Touat located in southwestern Laos. However, Ka Touat is actually 2 villages merged into one. Previously, Baan Ka Touat and Baan Bang were separated, although they are now joined with a total population of approximately 1008.
Furthermore, 80% of the villagers are of the Laventibe ethnic minority and 20% are Lao Lum. As a result, this is very unique because the predominate ethnicity in Laos is Lao Lum.
The villagers primary source of income is from growing and selling coffee beans. However, agriculture in rural Laos is not industrialized and the income potential of the Baan Ka Touat community is very limited. Therefore, this Laos community development project would need private funding.
Dilapidated State of Previous School Building
Originally, their school building had been constructed by the villagers in 1984. Additionally, their former school building facilitated the education of 175 students grades 1-5 (79 male, 96 female).
However, the villagers were unable to provide adequate maintenance and the building had fallen into severe disrepair. As a result, the rusty corrugated roof leaked and the dirt floor would become dusty in the dry season and muddy pot holes formed in the rainy season. Therefore, the students would frequently become sick due to the unhygienic conditions.
Furthermore, the school was too small for the student population and inadequate classroom partitions made learning very difficult. Additionally, there was no electricity and lack of natural light in the classrooms obstructs concentration and damages eyesight.
Private Funding for Laos Community Development
I agreed to provide 100% funding for the Ka Touat, Laos community development project. Additionally, community participation is always encouraged to foster a sense of ownership and inclusion. Indeed, the resources of Baan Ka Touat were limited. However, they volunteered to provide their own labor, wood frames for the structure, scaffolding and soil for the building.
Furthermore, both the government and the community would be responsible for the school after construction was completed. As a result, construction began September 2014 and completion was expected in the spring of 2015.
Completion of the Ka Touat, Laos School Project
The Ka Touat, Laos school project was completed on schedule. Therefore, the official school opening ceremony was held in September 2015. The new school building consisted of one building with 6 classrooms and 2 toilets.
The classrooms were much better situated to provide adequate lighting and this dramatically improved the learning environment. Additionally, adequate partitions now separated the classrooms effectively reducing the noise levels.
Ka Touat School Opening Ceremony
Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the opening ceremony for this school project. However, a representative from the referring NGO would be attending on both our behalves. Typically, the opening ceremony is also attended by many students, their families, all the teachers and local administrative officials.
Additional Laos Community Development
Additional community development I sponsored in SW Laos includes a similar school project in Nong Tae, Laos. Indeed, the projects were very beneficial to the local communities and thousands of children will reap the benefits.
It is very important that the communities will have a center of learning and hopefully a sense of community ownership will develop. Additionally, the local school children finally have a clean safe place for class which encourages attendance.