Laos, Laos Trip

My Visit to Dannavieng Elementary School

My main reason for this trip to Laos was to visit Dannavieng Elementary School, it’s the school that my co-workers (Friends of the NLL) and I contributed in the amount of $1,250.00 to help complete the school. I do have to say that planning for this trip had been very stressful for me because it also meant that it’s my first time visiting Laos since I left. My dad was concerned for me because I left Laos when I was only about 5 or 6 years old, so he decided in the last minute to join me.

There has not been any new improvement to the school since my last post, the last installment of $500 that I made in August 2008 is still with Phor Yai (big father) of the village because the school doesn’t have anything further plan with the construction, and the $500 is not enough for the flooring.  Phor Yai and his daughter thought that it’d cost about $2,000 for the cement floor, which I believed that they can collect from the local villagers. I do have to say that the school is a lot bigger than I thought, I’m glad that I’m able to take these photos myself, and by a twist of faith, everything worked out in my favor.

Dannavieng Elementary School

Dannavieng Elementary School

Dannavieng Elementary School

Dannavieng Elementary School - bathrooms

Dannavieng Elementary School- bathroom Dannavieng Elementary School - water fountain

When one of my friends found out about my plan to visit the school, he asked if I could buy school supplies for the students and teachers on his behalf, and gave me $50. At the time, I had also decided to buy some myself, and with such kind gesture, I decided to match his donation and had a budget of $100 total. I didn’t know how many students at the time, but thought it might be closed to 200, so I bought the school supplies at the morning market in Paksun, and got 200 books of 100 pages, 40 books of 200 pages, 250 pencils, 100 blue pens, 100 red pens, the total cost of 865,000 kip. There are only about 150 students, so there are plenty for future uses.

school supplies

school supplies

receipt for school supplies

I visited the school on November 20, 2008. We took the Song Tail (local bus) there, and not knowing the schedule and how long it would take to get to the school, we left Pakse a bit early and headed to Ponthong. We got to the school around 10:20 AM, right before their lunch break at 11 AM-1 PM.

I asked my dad and one of the teachers, Nang Ummala to hand out the books, pens, and pencils to the students. As you can see, the photos show for themselves, and if I have to say so myself, the joy of giving is definitely greater than the joy of receiving.

Dannavieng Elementary School Dannavieng Elementary School

Dannavieng Elementary School Dannavieng Elementary School

Dannavieng Elementary School Dannavieng Elementary School

Dannavieng Elementary School Dannavieng Elementary School

Dannavieng Elementary School

Handsome posts right before lunch break at 11 AM…

Dannavieng Elementary School

Dannavieng Elementary School

More photos of younger students

Dannavieng Elementary School

Dannavieng Elementary School Dannavieng Elementary School

Dannavieng Elementary School Dannavieng Elementary School

Dannavieng Elementary School Dannavieng Elementary School

I’m happy to be able to make some small contribution to the school in Laos, and glad that my friend also gave school supplies.  There are others that have made contribution that’s worth mentioning,  Booyong Co. Korean donated 6 blackboards, as you can see that the old ones are in bad shape.

Booyong Co. Korean

Booyong Co. Korean old blackboard

13 thoughts on “My Visit to Dannavieng Elementary School”

  1. Hi Nye, have you heard of Greg Mortenson? Look him up and you’ll find an amazing legacy and life he is building…his current book is “Three Cups of Tea.”

    What you and your friends are doing for the children of Laos is something that I believe many of us here can contribute one way or another. I remember your earlier posting you made with the quote “I believe the children are the future…”

    Thanks for a sharing with us your wonderful story…sometimes when we don’t see beyond our backyard, it’s hard to be thankful for how much we have.

  2. I am on my way to Laos soon and know that when I get there that l will want to contribute to a cause l think your school is fantastic l would love to donate some money. I am so pleased to read your blog.

    All the best sandy

  3. Hi Sandy, thank you for your visit. Most schools in Laos are in need of school supplies, so it’s best to buy it yourself at the market and bring it to the school, you’re welcome at any school. As you can see that $100 goes a long way, and good luck with your trip.

  4. Darly reply to a comment:

    “I was recently informed by a former Lao Ambassador to the US that whatever you want to do will have to go through a proper channel via the US embassy in the US if you are from that country in particular. Many people think they can just go to Laos and pass out educational materials or start a project without informing the officials and obtaining a permission at the embassy. Doing so will result in fines and imprisonment.

    Whatever project you want to start must be registered with the Lao embassy in your country. That way you can get proper credit and official approval from the government. This is to prevent cases like people passing out Bibles to the locals on the basis of coming to help with education and later distributing religious materials.”

  5. Thanks Dallas, I actually asked Darly about these school supplies before I made my purchase, and she said that it’s fine. I believed school supplies are different because it’s blank sheet of papers, pens and pencils, and that’s what these are. It’s not educated materials, unlike books or bibles that could be a threat to their teaching and learning philosophy. I’d not advise any learning materials.

    I guess if it would make you feel better, then ask first, but as for school supplies, I think it’s not that strict, and don’t see it as a threat, plus some students don’t have it because they can’t afford. Most school would gladly accept school supplies, and I asked the teacher first if it’s okay to give out to the students, and she said yes.

  6. Hi Dallas,

    As a rule of thumb, you should visit the school first and asked if there is anything you can do to help or offer to provide school materials like writing materials, pens, pencils, etc. After that you can come back on your second visit to bring the necessary supplies. It’s not good to be spontaneous like some of the tourists are doing to just show up with things to give away and ask permission to pass out things. Some might not have the heart to say no when they know they needed such materials. Others might not hesitate to refuse you at all.

    One thing to remember is that no matter how poor these people are, they want to be treated equal and have so much pride in their humble community. If a school just take stuff on the spot, then someone can also get in trouble later with the higher authority and the list goes up the ladder. According to my official source, there has been a case where a mayor has been removed from his office for being a part of a meeting when foreigners came to town to start a project without official authorization from the US embassy.

    As for LV involvement in a school building project, no official authorization was needed since it was done via a relative who is on the committee (Por Thao Yai). He is well known for his school building initiatives in the area since pre-1975.

    As for school supplies, I have informed my uncle and the superintendent that Ginger might bring school supplies for the students and if that was okay and they said it was not a problem.

  7. Thanks Darly, I forgot to mention that I did ask you to ask for permission first, visiting the school first like you said is always a good idea so that you can ask for permission, and you would also know how many students to buy supplies for, and in my case I only buy the very basic.

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