Lao Newsletter June 2011

Hello. Hope you’re all doing okay. Just thought I’d pass on the latest graduation photos from this year’s batch. We had three students from the 8+3 system picking up their blue menus this year: Mr Talone, Miss Souvongkhan and Miss Syvanh.





I’m sure you sponsors will be able to Photoshop your kids back into daylight before you frame the pictures. Ms Souvongkhan did well in her studies but she’s getting married this year. (somebody warn her) so she won’t be continuing. Nobody asked Ms Syvanh so she’d like to continue her studies up to secondary school level. I’ll be contacting sponsors individually about your students over the next week. That will include the odd progress report from old students out at schools.
   Sadly, one of our students, Ms Khamsone has been very sick this year and had to drop out of the course. She hopes to return to her studies when she gets better. We’ve arranged for money to be sent up to her for her medical fees.

If I can find someone to sit my dogs I’ll be off to Laos next month to interview a couple of new Hmong girls who are hoping to start at the university next term. I need to make sure they aren’t planning to elope before the course starts which is what happened last year. I’ll also be up in Luang Nam Tha to see the students who are hoping to begin their studies next term. It’s all getting a bit complicated but I promise I’ll sort this out and get in touch with you all about owed money and availability of new students before the new term starts.

I’m home after a hectic month of being famous and making far too much money. Or perhaps that’s what the publicists would have me believe. I hope you’re all throbbing with good health. More from me when I get back from the land of sticky rice.





Hello folks. Just a quick note to let you know that, like the year 2076, the reports from our teachers in schools will be here eventually. Chantavone will follow up on it when she gets back toLaos. As she is no longer based in Luang Nam Tha I have to make the decision as to whether we’ll take on new kids for the next academic year. Without feedback and someone in situ it’s a bit like a long distance love affair. Well, no, it’s nothing like that at all but I’m having serious imagination block this year.

In the meantime I’m attaching a description of a Lahu lad here in Thailand who would like to do another year at high school. It’s a one off so if anyone’s interested please let me know.


Marudech Jayor (Thai name), or JaHaa Jayo, transcribed from Lahu language, is a 16 year old Lahu Sheleh boy living in the village of Doi Mot, Wiang Pa Pao, Chiang Rai province, Thailand. He is the oldest of three children. He is just finishing 8th grade at Pong Nam Ron Wittiaya School, about 15 kilometers away in the lowlands. Two other girls from his village attend secondary boarding school in Chiang Rai. Elementary school kids go to a school in walking distance of the village. All the other kids in his village of 35 families who are above 6th grade have dropped out.

Three years ago, after JaHaa finished 6th grade, he became a novice monk for one year. This is a common route for hill tribe boys to continue their education. It’s free but it doesn’t often work well – the education is sketchy, the novices aren’t always treated well, there is little oversight. JaHaa stayed at the temple for one year – a year that was lost when he returned to the regular Thai schools. He is now 16 and just finishing eighth grade – he is keenly aware that he is behind.

Because of the unsuccessful school year as a novice, he now must attend an inferior school. After the next scholastic year, once he has finished 9th grade, he will likely have an opportunity to be a boarding student at a better school in Mae Ka Jan, about 35 kilometers from his home. If he can go to that school, there may also be local scholarship funds available for him, so completing this next year is crucial to provide him with further options.

It is an easy choice to drop out of school for Lahu village teenagers. JaHaa’s father, LaoEr, now age 35, did just that before he finished 6th grade and now he regrets it. LaoEr is determined to keep his son studying as long as he can.

LaoEr works at a coffee farm near his village and makes 5000 baht a month, about $165, not quite $2000 a year. He and his wife, Namoo, also have a little income from fields they farm, and from clothes and handicrafts that Namoo makes and sells. In addition to their children, they must bare responsibility for four other family members, including LaoEr’s invalid father and Namoo’s blind brother. JaHaa’s daily expenses for school are about 75 baht for food and transportation, so for one scholastic year of 200 days costs about 15,000 baht ($490), and another 1,000 ($33) baht for uniforms and shoes, or 16000 baht ($523) total for a year. Help with these school expenses could make a huge difference to the overall wellbeing of their family. 


Nothing else to report. Thanks a lot and I hope you’re all having a great year of the rabbit.