Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

ChildFund Laos has been working in Nonghet district in Xieng Khouang province since 2010. Located in northern Laos, near the Vietnamese border, the district is considered one of the poorest in Laos. The majority of the population here is H’mong, an ethnic minority group in Laos often excluded from development opportunities.

To help improve access to education for children and youth in Nonghet, ChildFund Laos is working in partnership with local government and communities to provide a range of quality, locally-appropriate education opportunities.

Over the past financial year, more than 6,200 people benefitted from ChildFund Laos’ Education for All program. Three primary schools and one early childhood development centre have been constructed and provided with educational equipment and resources. 17 long-term, teacher training scholarships were provided, and teachers from 12 schools also participated in two government-standard education training courses.

Community members are asked to contribute labour and materials towards the construction of schools in their villages to foster local ownership of the project. Since 2012, ChildFund Laos has supported the construction of primary schools in all 12 of our partner communities in Nonghet.

On any given day, Halima has her work cut out for her. As a community health volunteer in a rural area outside of Mombasa, she makes one or two home visits per day, checking in on families participating in ChildFund’s program to help children and families affected by HIV and AIDS in Kenya’s Coast and Nairobi provinces. Halima has 50 children on her list.

Launched in 2011 and run by ChildFund Kenya and several other partner organisations, the USAID-funded program takes a comprehensive approach to ensuring that these children and their caregivers have a safety net so they can build a more hopeful future.

Today, Halima’s first visit is with Nadzua, 35, who is mother to 11 children, after marrying into a family who had lost their mother to HIV.  She greets Halima warmly in her front yard, a sleepy toddler balanced on her hip. Her two-year-old son, Mbega, is Nadzua’s only child home this morning – the others are at school, and her husband is in town.

The women sit together outside to chat. Before moving on to today’s subject – how Nadzua can gain skills to improve her family’s income – there is a lot to talk about; from the children’s health and immunisations and school to nutrition and hygiene and how Nadzua is doing in the literacy classes Halima encouraged her to take.

For Nadzua, it is hard with 11 children to care for, but life has improved since Halima’s visits began. “I have gained a lot from Halima,” Nadzua says. “I am more educated, more informed on how to take care of my children and my household.”