Christmas 2017

What were you doing on Christmas Day?  I trust all of you had the best Christmas ever, with family and friends.  For me, I was with my Lao families and friends, although mssing everyone at home too.

We started off on Christmas Eve and headed up to Nong Khiaw for the night.  It is a place I like to kick back a bit and enjoy everything life has to offer.  It was nippy for us, dropping to 7 at night with no heat anywhere (restaurants are outdoors), but the comforter was nice and warm!

On Christmas morning we headed up with materials to Ban Phone, about 2 1/2 hours further north, as we near completion of the project.  It was pretty exciting to see!  You could see the villagers waiting in anticipation.  The Centre will be named the David Howe Cultural Centre and while handicrafts, primarily basket weaving for about 40 different products will be made, it will also be a teaching centre that will instruct the younger villagers how to do the craft, with an eyeful watch by the elders.  It is also an opportunity for the elders to tell the stories of the past, about the culture of the Khmu people so that their culture is not forgotten.  Further we hope to expand this into textile weaving, canvas art, music and dance, among other attractions.  This is the perfect way to assist the elders to continue with their valuable contributions for their families and the Khmu people.

We are told that the cultural centre will be finished within 3 weeks, including the washrooms which haven’t been started yet. Here are a few snaps.

The David Howe Cultural Centre, nearing completion.

A Villager shows his expertise in the magic of weaving a rice basket.

It wasn’t long before another villager joined him, anxious to show off his handwork too. Do you notice the netting on his head? No, it wasn’t to keep his hair in place. Funny guy – he had the left over netting from a bag of oranges we took for the group…

We headed back to Luang Prabang with many stops along the way.  One of them was to buy winter coats for a village family.  Another was to get the contracts for an upcoming water project in Ban Xiengda signed by the village chief, water engineer and District Hygiene Office.  A couple of Beer Lao’s later, we headed to a place just north of Luang Prabang to pick up the large sign for the centre.  It is interesting to note that this was done by students from a fine art school.  I was unaware they even had one here in Luang Prabang.

The students are all poor of course so were anxious to show us their aptitude and receive payment so they can spend it durig the upcoming New Year.  I was pretty impressed with the results.

Work in progress by a 4th year student.

Khammon, on the left, was the one that did all the work. The fellow n the right was asked to step in at the last minute because Khammon is very shy. I am so impressed that it took only a day to make and an extra day or so to finish. Now, we just have to figure out how to mount the sign at the school. There will be a second sign, not as fancy, to than all of our generous donors.  It should be noted that everything was done with chisels.


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