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Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

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As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout out begins, ChildFund Laos has been working in partnership with the Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation to implement immunisation events and encourage widespread take-up of the vaccine.

Staff from ChildFund’s Vientiane office have provided voluntary support at the public clinics, which has included recording patients’ health information, checking the blood pressure of individuals prior to vaccination, and being on hand to answer questions about the vaccine.

Providing reliable health information is essential, says Touly Vilayphone, a ChildFund Laos project officer. She says people commonly want to know more about the types of vaccines available, any possible side effects, and get a better understanding of how the vaccine can protect them during outbreaks of the disease.

Piengngeun Xaysongkham, ChildFund’s senior HR and liaison officer, has also been lending a hand. She says: “Helping others at a vaccination event is not only a good thing to do, but it makes me happy to know that people in my community will be protected from the worst health impacts of the disease.”

A digital library with hundreds of storybooks is helping children from an ethnic minority group in Laos stay engaged in school and learn to read and write in their national language.

Young primary school students like eight-year-old Ari (pictured above) in a remote village in Huaphanh Province, in northeast Laos, have long faced challenges reading and writing Lao, a second language for many of them, because of the lack of teaching and learning resources at their school.

Long-time primary school teacher Toui says the majority of students at his school communicate with one another in their ethnic language rather than Lao. Over the past 32 years as a teacher, he has seen children of this ethnic minority group progress “very slowly” when it comes to reading, writing and speaking Laos’ national language.

Children who are literate in Lao transition easier to mainstream education and have greater job opportunities in the future. It is also easier for them to access government services and ensure their rights are not violated.

Toui says the introduction of the digital library, introduced by ChildFund in Laos and Library For All, has inspired students to learn Lao, and increased their confidence.

“Since the digital library was implemented two years in our school, students have been more motivated to come to school, are interested in reading, and have developed their Lao reading and speaking skills,” Toui says.

“Many children in this area are shy. They don’t often share their opinions and ideas. Since the digital library was introduce, the children have improved their communication skills, and they question more.”