With the world in pandemonium as they try to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, life has changed for the Lao People too, although reported cases are only at 19, as of May 21. The government has recognized that a pandemic of this proportion was no match for their healthcare system, they wasted no time in locking the country borders, right down to the rural villages. With record low river levels causing crop failures in the north, followed by widespread hoof-and-mouth disease and now Covid, the struggles have been unimaginable. With no income, very limited food and no access to the villages, to say it has been challenging, would be an understatement. The university and college students that didn’t make it back to their villages in time, have been forced to wait it out in their dormitories, with no food, no part-time job and nowhere to go.
Our team was caught in the middle, although we did extend additional training to some of the rural villages in preparation of Covid and provided recommendations to prevent hoof and mouth disease. The main water project of the season was put on hold for two months, as visitors scrambled to find new flights to return home, after all initial flights were cancelled. There is no point to go into details, since this was a worldwide challenge.
The good news is that the project restarted about a week ago as the villages have reopened, and we were able to receive delivery of the remaining 3.6km of pipe for a total of 7.2km. Thanks to our illustrious and dedicated project manager Siphan, the project is back on track, with the dam now completed (curing), all 7.2km of pipe laid, and water is now running to the village. The villagers are ecstatic and you will see all the kids having fun with water in the village for the first time. The water tank still has to be built, along with the tap towers in the village and smaller pipe to be run from the water tank to the taps. Completion is estimated in 3-4 weeks.
During the weeks since our return to our respective countries, dozens of closing reports and updates have been submitted to the charity’s main donors, as we begin to review next seasons budget. With the cancellation of all large fundraisers for the foreseeable future, and most funds being held back for local covid relief initiatives, it will be a challenging year. Thinking outside the box will be the new norm as we try to adapt and continue to assist a country with so many setbacks.
Here are links to a couple of youtube videos. Please note that this is obviously amateur video – As a small charity, funds are not spent to have expensive video equipment and professional narrators etc. You will need to paste the links into your browser.
This first one is a summary of some of the many projects completed during the season. It will be modified to include the last and largest project, once completed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTDycT_CEQ8&t=17s
This second video is of one of our university students, Khamman, who is just completing his second year in ecotourism. He is number 1 in his course. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZAcwJGvqc8