Providing Reading Opportunities to Children in Rural Villages
Laos is still a rural community with many people engaged in subsistence farming. People are poor. Books are an unaffordable luxury. In many villages in Laos there are no books. Even in the school – if there is a school.
The Luang Prabang Public Library supports libraries and reading promotion in many surrounding villages. On the library wall are a number of "book bags", each of which has slots to put books into. People are encouraged to come and buy a Lao book which is on a stand next to the book bag, and then place it in one of the slots in the bag.
When there are 100 books in a book bag, it is taken out and distributed to village schools where both the children and the adults of the village have access to them.
The library, in cooperation with Cooperative Learning International operates the Lao Children’s Library Boats. These boats travel on the Mekong and Ou Rivers and bring books to children living in villages along the rivers.
The aim of the Tuk-Tuk Library is to visit schools in the villages surrounding Luang Prabang with books, learning activities and games. The Tuk-Tuk Library contains books for ages 3-18.
When the Tuk-Tuk Library goes to a village school, librarians and volunteers go with it and they take a full book-bag of 100 books, which is loaned to the students for a period of 2-6 weeks so they have a continual supply of new books to read.
The librarians spend the day with the children conducting fun reading games, teaching them how to respect books, teaching singing games etc. They also play games with the students which teach teamwork, coordination, group involvement and other skills - all conveyed through play. Hygiene promotion through songs, stories and drama will have long-term positive outcomes for students’ health. If time allows, writing skills will be worked on, with story and poetry competitions. By involving the local teacher in these activities as well, they will educate the local teacher on how to run these kinds of activities in their classrooms in the future.
The children will also be given either a health bag containing soap, toothbrush and other personal items or a learning bag with exercise books and pencils - this will depend on the villages where the schools are located and their access to exercise books, pencils, soap etc.
The clothing that many tourists donate to Lao-kids when they visit Luang Prabang is also taken to the villages by the Tuk-Tuk Library to be distributed to the neediest people.
Anyone can go to the to the library and purchase books for the book bags. They're not expensive - about US$ 2 for each book.
If you want to donate the cost of a complete book bag and its full complement of books, we can also arrange for you to join the Book Tuk-Tuk on a visit to a village. Please let us know well in advance so arrangements can be made.
Achievements in 2013
In 2013, Lao-Kids has been able to achieve the following for the Luang Prabang Library and district libraries and schools:
- Subscription for Lao language Teenage magazines for the Library 2013/14 (10 subscriptions) = US$900
- Fabric and cost of making 30 book bags = US$275
- Sponsorship of the summer program for 3 months at the LP Library = US$1400
- LP Library electricity bill for 6 months (from May to October 2013) = US$452
- Purchase of books and school text books for the LP Library and book bags = US$3750
- Subsidising tuk-tuk library visits to villages with book bags, and teacher training activities for library volunteers = US$450
- Subsidising a 2 day-teacher training programme in the Pak Ou district = US$136
- Text books for primary school children in the Pak Ou district = US$1000
- Text books for Pakzieng District High School = US$1500
- Soap and tinned fish to go out to remote villages with the tuk-tuk library = US$380
- Purchase of clothing, books and kitchen items for 11 boys when their village school dormitory burnt down = US$300
- Payment of Library assistant Sengbao's salary of US$100 a month since July 2013 as there were no funds in the Lao government budget. We are hoping that the government will begin to pay his salary in 2014.
- Repair of LP Library roof that was leaking very badly and books were going to be damaged = US$2400
- Book bags donated by Lao kids $1250 (and a special thank you to all the wonderful people who came and worked with Chantha at the library and also donated book bags. We are so grateful.)
Thank you to the group of people from Huonville SWAP (https://www.facebook.com/pages/SWAP-Huonville-High-School/112569445559559) who donated US$1000 for paint brushes and paint, and came and painted the LP Library.
Thank you also to all those wonderful people who carried second-hand clothing in their luggage to donate, and to those who left their unwanted clothing to lighten their loads. All the remote villages need clothing - children run around naked and it can become very cold so everything is welcome.
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