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Laos….for many people it is the "Land of a Million Elephants", "a small piece of paradise on earth".

The many visitors now flocking to Laos leave the country with fond impressions and memories of beautiful vistas, friendly locals, great food, wonderful temples and a totally relaxed lifestyle.  


   

But there is another side of life to this beautiful country… 


 

Laos is one of the poorest nations on earth. Only a small percentage of Lao live in towns and cities - the majority of the population survives by farming at subsistence levels, often having to travel many kilometres each day just to collect water.

 

Sanitation is very basic and medical care is often not available  because of the huge travel times to hospitals in larger towns. Diseases sweep through villages and people have no resistance and cannot fight them. Due to malnutrition and starvation, whole villages can be devastated.

When families finally do reach the Luang Prabang Hospital or one of its District Hospitals, they receive treatment from a team of doctors and nurses who are providing an amazing service with very few resources. The hospital is lacking in many areas, from clean bedding to surgical equipment to paediatric care facilities.



Many babies (and mothers) die due to their inability to get to hospital for birthing, or as a result of the harsh conditions for babies in the mountain areas of Laos, where the temperatures can be below zero degrees in Winter. Lao Kids has been working with the hospitals to provide them with equipment and baby supplies. Read more on the Luang Prabang Hospital page of this site.


All children in Laos are allowed to finish high school, no matter what their age when they commence school.  It is not uncommon to have 16 year-olds studying at Year 7, as their start at school was delayed for any number of reasons.

Many children walk down from the mountains, sometimes taking days to get to the nearest school. Their families hope that when they finish they will get jobs in the government such as the public service, police or army, or have an opportunity to go on to Teacher Training College and come back and set up schools in the villages, or at least be able to send a little money home to help out. 

 

However, one significant obstacle to children gaining an education is a lack of books - both text books and reading books. Text books are desperately needed in all rural schools both primary and high school.  They are reasonably priced but rural students just don't have the money to purchase them and also nowhere to purchase them. Lao-Kids has been working with the Luang Prabang Library to provide reading books and text books to remote village schools. You can read more about this on the Luang Prabang Library page of this site.



 During the 1960’s/70’s war in south-east Asia, areas of Laos were the most heavily bombed places on earth - approximately 250 thousand tons of bombs were dropped on Laos during the war. Many of these bombs and other devices did not explode on impact and lie scattered around the countryside.

Approximately 5000 people a year are killed by unexploded ordinance (UXOs) as starvation causes desperate parents to

clear land or forage in areas where they know there are bombs because they are trying to find food.

Children often find the unexploded bombs and play with them as toys or collect them for their metal... with disastrous consequences.

Every year there are hundreds of Lao children and adults injured and killed by these unexploded cluster bombs.


When a child is orphaned or cannot be cared-for by their immediate family, the child’s extended family or village tries to look after them. But as subsistence farmers, where every day is a fine line between life and death, the burden of feeding an extra child where there are no extra adults to help with planting rice or hunting becomes too much.  Many children end up being cared for in a Government Orphanage School.

Lao-Kids has worked with a number of orphanage schools in the Luang Prabang Province to improve the health and education of the children. You can read more about this on the Orphanage Schools page of this site.








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