A Christmas Present with a Difference is Heartwarming
The children at remote Thongsene Secondary School at Ban Kohai in Laos have received a special Xmas present, thanks to the generosity of MiVAC volunteers and donors.
Steve and Dorene Carroll of Medowie in Port Stephens, NSW, travelled to Laos in June 2010 to assess the needs of this far-flung school, which sits astride the infamous Ho Chi Min Trail. Up until last year the school grounds had been heavily contaminated with unexploded bombs and some children had been killed or maimed. At that time MiVAC initiated a clearance program removing most of the deadly war legacy. This humanitarian act created another problem, an influx of students and subsequent overcrowding. “There were about forty to a hundred kids camping in grass and bamboo lean-to’s on the school grounds” Mr Carroll said. “What was far worse was the lack of basic facilities. One toilet and one well with a bucket to service six hundred students and teachers. Try to imagine that!” he added.
Returning home they began to canvas service clubs in the Hunter region for funds to help finance the project, putting up $10,000 themselves. The aim was to build two dormitories, two toilets with wash basins, refurbish a well and reticulate water from it to the buildings via a water tank and tower.
On November 16th Steve and his daughter Natalie arrived back in Lao to start the ball rolling. Because of visa limitations Steve set a timetable of three weeks to completion, a tough ask in such a remote place.
“From the outset I was amazed at the enthusiasm of the entire community. Where possible, everything was procured or manufactured locally” Steve said. “Cement blocks were made on site, local timber and bamboo were utilised, sand was carted up from the river by the kids during breaks and during the whole process everyone kept smiling.” he continued.
The Carrolls had to commute a round trip of forty kilometres daily in a hired tuk-tuk, over a tooth rattling excuse for a road, but the scene on arrival was always a compensation. “It was as though Santa’s little helpers had been there during the night” Steve exclaimed.
How Can You Assist?
3. Make the MiVAC Trust your charity of choice
4. Sponsor a MiVAC project
The first women's UXO and mine clearance team has been successfully trained and have completed their first job.
With the first phase of training now over, members of the team will now be assessed for further training up to Level 4 UXO technician.
This programme is an initiative of PCL and is being sponsored by MiVAC as part of an ongoing policy of combining de-mining priorities with socio-economic goals such as employment creation, income generation, gender equality, skills transfer and capacity building.
PCL and MiVAC are proud of this initiative and of the women’s team and the team’s progress so far. Their ability to put back into their own communities is not only satisfying but is also something we pride ourselves on and will continue to expand in the future.
New Projects have been Planned in Lao PDR
In the village of Ban Xai (close to the Plain of Jars) the Lao people exist well below the poverty line. MiVAC (with PCL) have cleared one mine field and are working on another. These minefields are remnants of the 1964-75 Secret War. People and animals have been recently killed in these minefields.
This village is next to the minefields and MiVAC, through a reconnaissance done by Ben Boyle, has determined a number of requirements for these villagers. The projects include
Happy New Year and have a successful 2011
Ph: +61-2-9457 7133
Toll Free: 1300 731 900