Supporting Children's Education and Pediatric Healthcare
It is part of the Health Frontiers Outreach Project which is working to improve health care and education for Lao children and their families. The goals of the Project are to increase the general health of people living in local villages, decrease morbidity and mortality rates, and generally improve the lives of Lao people.
The centre also functions as an after-school drop-in center for underprivileged children, providing them with a computer lab, English lessons, and many activities that are so valuable in a child's upbringing.
Leila is a pediatrician by profession and has trained many Lao doctors in the capital, Vientiane, visited uncountable rural hospitals and has made an invaluable contribution in this quiet country. Leila’s overall goal is to train at least one pediatrician for each of the 16 provinces in Laos.
Bryan is a photographer and takes care of the computer lab, where the children learn math and basic computer skills.
Every day, children come to the Butterfly Children's Development Center to work on the computers and for activities including sport, exercise, gymnastics, reading, drawing, games, singing, dancing, English language study and imaginative drama.
There are so many health problems that can be cured fairly simply - by operation, medication or education. Leila and Bryan work to identify people who have health problems, and then assist where possible to provide treatment.
Deaf Children: Several deaf children from Luang Nam Tha Province province now attend Deaf School in Luang Prabang and Vientiane (see below for more details).
Cataract Surgery: Recently an 11 year old blind girl was sent from an outlying village to the Luang Nam Tha Hospital for cataract surgery. She can now see perfectly. Although the cost of the actual surgery was sponsored via Health Frontiers, a major issue in the girl getting treatment was the cost of traveling to the provincial hospital. Leila and Bryan provided the US $18.65 that it cost to send her to hospital. A child's sight was restored for less than US$20! Sometimes that's all it takes to change a life!
Treatment of Noma: Noma is a disease that causes debilitating ulceration that destroys the mouth and face. Acute Noma occurs predominantly in malnourished children 1–4 years of age living in the remotest and poorest parts of the world. It has been called the "Face of Poverty" because the disease only occurs in circumstances of extreme poverty, and the survivors are often severely disfigured and functionally impaired.
Bryan and Leila identify people suffering Noma in the villages in the Luang Nam Tha district and assist these people to get the medical treatment required to treat the disease. In January 2011, they took 6 Noma patients and their immediate family members to Vientiane hospital for treatment by the Noma team. The trip takes 2 days - one day to travel from their village to Luang Nam Tha city, overnight
accommodation, and then the rest of the journey to Vientiane completed on the 24-hour bus. It costs approximately US$100 for the round trip for a patient and their family member. To send a baby costs less as they do not need a bus ticket. Most of these people speak their native dialect, not the Lao language. Without financial support these patients could not afford the trip to hospital, and without help from Leila and Bryan they would not know how to travel.
These are just a few examples of how so very little money is required to achieve such life-changing results!
A Butterfly Travel Story.... the joys of travel! Click
If you have any used children's clothing and/or shoes - and space in your travel bags - Lao-kids collects these items and gives them to Leila and Bryan to distribute to the very poor Aka villages in Luang Nam Tha Province. These children are so desperate for an education that they often attend school in clothes that are more like rags, and no shoes. It is also extremely cold in the north during the long dry season, so warm clothing and good shoes are always of great assistance. It doesn't matter how old the items are, as long as they are in good condition. Just take them to Ruth at the Book Exchange when you arrive in Luang Prabang. (See How You Can Help for directions.)
One way for ethnic Lao children to help their villages out of poverty is to gain an education in health or teaching so they can return to their villages and take this learning with them - to bring better health care or to assist with opening and running schools in villages. Education is the way for these poor village areas to get out of the poverty trap. Bryan and Leila look for deserving students whom they believe will support and benefit their community and their country, and nominate them for educational scholarships. The Butterfly Children's Development Center scholarship page lists these students. Bryan and Leila continually follow up on the students' progress through their studies.
Several university students are studying to become doctors, nurses and teachers.
Five deaf students are now studying at the Government Deaf Schools in Luang Prabang and Vientiane. (Click HERE to see more details about the children studying in Luang Prabang.)
Two foster students also receive scholarship support. One comes from a severely disadvantaged family, and the other is a blind boy who is learning how to go to school and learn the Lao language. Next year he will attend the Government Blind School in Vientiane.
The Butterfly Children’s Center also offers scholarships for young leaders and exceptional teachers to study at the Donkhoi Children’s Development Center in Vientiane.
However, there are a number of scholarship students who still need sponsors. If you are interested in sponsoring a student, please contact us and we will put you in touch with Bryan and Leila to work out all the details.
The value of scholarships depend on what course the student is undertaking and how long it takes.
Bryan and Leila will also contact you regularly to keep you up-to-date on their progress.
Lao-kids is currently sponsoring one student ourselves. His name is Somphet and he is an amputee who has been fitted with a prosthetic foot by COPE. He is learning computers, computer repair and English at a school in Luang Prabang. It costs us about 250,000 kip (US $32) per month to cover his living expenses and school expenses, clothing and shoes - although Somphet reckons we need to look for an amputee with the other foot missing so we can share the shoes between them!
Click the thumbnails below to view the Butterfly Center's brochure.