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“I am proud of what I’ve done.”

The Ready for Life (R4L) project is a three-year program, equipping 267 young people across Laos with planning, communication, responsible decision-making and confidence to become community leaders.

The project, implemented by ChildFund in Laos, is being run across 30 target schools in the Xiengkhouang, Houaphanh Provinces and in the capital city, Vientiane. So far, the project has worked with 4,053 young people to educate them on youth-related issues, including digital literacy and sexual and reproductive health.

Cindy, 18 years old, has been a part of the R4L program for the last three years and is now one of the trainers. In 2019, she was selected to take part in the ASEAN Children’s Summit, and after this experience, she decided to continue to work with ChildFund.

“I enjoyed being a youth trainer and representative from my school and did a lot of activities with my fellow team members a lot. When I first applied to be a youth trainer, I just wanted to try something new and have fun with my friends. But after taking part, I learned that the knowledge I have was valuable. I realised that I could help many other children from other schools and provinces,” she said.

After building her confidence, Cindy has been to many forums, regularly speaking and advocating for the rights of children in her community. She said that she has enjoyed the opportunities she has gained since being a part of the program. “Since I was a youth volunteer in ChildFund in Laos, I have joined various activities. I participated in the Lao children’s Forum 2019 in Vientiane capital and the Asian Children’s Summit 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand as a Lao representative.”

Through these opportunities, she has been able to develop her confidence and leadership skills. She has shown that she is highly committed to her work and over time she has become a community role model, inspiring her peers to challenge themselves and also take part in the project.

Cindy is very passionate about empowering women and young girls and will be speaking about this topic at the Lao Youth Talks event. But she knows public speaking is an area of improvement for her.

“It is very challenging for me to talk in front of people on stage. I think every day about what lessons I want the audience to gain after listening to my speech. From when I was a young girl, I believed in women’s empowerment. Every woman can make their own choice, can earn money and should feel valued. Because of that attitude, I was chosen to be a youth speaker in the Lao Youth Talks.”

“I am proud of what I’ve done and worked so hard until this day, but I have to continuously improve and develop myself for the better. I think that learning is a lifelong journey. If we stop learning, our lives will not go so far. I love to study new things and improve my skills.”

Cindy has taken part in many of the project activities as part of the R4L project. With support from the team, young people like Cindy can effectively advocate for children’s rights across Laos. They can work together to solve the issues facing young people and come up with creative solutions.

In the future, the project will continue to work with youth volunteers to provide the knowledge and skills to empower them to become leaders in their communities.

This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

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