No sooner had I arrived to Luang Prabang, and we were off the ground running. We needed to complete our first village before our guests were to arrive, in order to meet the Christmas rush for pictures of the families receiving families that our generous donors had requested. The village of Phousoung in the Nambak District of Luang Prabang Province was going to be too much for newcomers to ride on a tractor. I am glad they didn’t join us, for their sake. With a two hour minivan ride, short trek to the river downhill, a boat trip across the river and another short trek to the first village, we endured a 3 hour tractor ride…both ways of course. With bad backs and sore butts, it was hard to sit down for two days afterwards…
A couple of days later, our visitors Jane and Frank Tilley arrived from Collingwood, Ontario, Canada.
We took it easy on the Tilleys for the first couple of days but before long, we were off to the first scheduled village of Nakeau, located about 1 1/2 hours from the Mekong Boat crossing at Luang Prabang. The road was surprisingly good, even the last 11km on a dried mud road, except for a couple of patches. This was just a day trip where we distributed filters to 61 families.
The next morning we were off on a three day, two night village trip to the north and into our focus area. The first stop was to Nong Khiaw for lunch, then river boat to Houay Han. This village had already agreed to host the Khmu New Year for 7 or 8 villages. Since then, the monsoons came with devastating damage to so many villages. Only 20% of the rice crops for this entire village were saved and their water system severely damaged. As such, we delivered the necessary materials to get them up and running again, although we knew it wouldn’t be in time for the New Years, scheduled just two days later.
In our next village we distributed 91 water filters and it was planned to coincide with their Khmu New Year so most of the villagers were dressed up in their traditional Khmu outfits. They generally wear these outfits once a year.
Christmas Day we are heading to Nakeau again, but this time as a bit of a surprise to them. They gave us the last of their scarves from a loom that was destroyed last year by termites. We have a new one for the village, and a starter kit along with lots of extra thread.