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A life of never giving up: stories from northern laos

ChildFund Laos has been working in Nonghet, one of the poorest districts in Xieng Khouang province in northern Laos since 2010. Nonghet is in a very remote part of Laos, over 500km by road from the capital, Vientiane, and is surrounded by mountains and forests. Families here rely on small-scale farming to generate an income.

Though with Nonghet badly affected by unexploded bombs leftover from the Vietnam War, the availability of land that can be used to grow food and make a living, or provide schools and safe play spaces for children is scarce. This continues to put people’s lives at risk and trap communities in an ongoing cycle of poverty.

ChildFund Laos, with the support of the Australian Government, is working in partnership with communities in Nonghet to bring about sustainable change for children and their families in the areas of education, healthcare, water and sanitation, child and youth participation, child protection and livelihoods. An important part of ChildFund’s work is to help amplify the voices of children, village members and local leaders in Nonghet to empower them to create positive change in their own communities.

It was through ChildFund’s community voices program that a book called A Life of Never Giving Up: Stories from Nonghet, was born.

This book is a compilation of 10 short stories written by a group of young people living in villages in Nonghet district. The stories provide a unique insight into life for youth in rural northern Laos. They are based on facts taken from each of the writers’ lives and represent their own experiences of change in their communities.

“Nine young writers from ChildFund`s partner communities wrote this book. They spent many days in training and weeks refining their stories to produce these insightful stories into life in their communities,” says Marieke Charlet, ChildFund Laos’ Development Effectiveness and Learning Manager. “In addition, each of the writers supported, listened to, and gave constructive advice to their peers, and ChildFund Laos is grateful for the contribution of all of the young writers. By helping us all better understand the challenges in their lives, they have supported the development and enrichment of both their communities and organisations like ChildFund.”

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