ChildFund in Laos is working with local partners in three rural villages to make sure that children and their families can access clean, safe water for the health and wellbeing of people in the area.
Chong Song is a leader in Phoupied Village, one of the villages taking part in the Sustainable Change Achieved through Linking Improved Nutrition and Governance (SCALING) project. In total, there are three villages in the project.
Song shared that it is was difficult for families to access clean water. “In the past, we faced frequent water shortages. People couldn’t access water equally either. Those who live near the reservoir were always using too much water for themselves and not leaving enough for those who live far away.”
Phoupied has a population of three hundred people. In the households, children were often responsible for making the long trip to the river to fetch water for their families. This means the children have less time to play, homework and family life as they spend more of their time sourcing clean water.
Most members of the community are farmers and access to water is vital for their livelihoods. ChildFund in Laos worked with local partners to come up with a way for water to be more accessible. The initiative was funded by the European Union.
Members of the community enthusiastically helped build a gravity-fed water system where water is collected from a nearby river, gets filtered and is collected in a water tank. They volunteered their time, labour and materials to build the system.
A plumbing system was also built so that each house had a tap connected to the water tank for instant access to clean water in their homes.
Because of the water supply system, children and families in the community can now access clean and safe water at any time of day. This increases their health and hygiene practices and helps prevent them from getting sick. Children also have a lot more time now to dedicate towards their education and social activities.
“Not only was the water supply system constructed but a water meter has been installed in each household as well that lets them monitor their water usage. The more you use, the more you must pay for a bill. This system made people think before using water,” said Song.
The income generated by the water charge will be used to maintain the water supply system and ensure sustainability.
“I will continue monitoring and maintaining the water supply system. This is not only for me, but it will be beneficial for the people in my community and so our future generations can access water,” added Song.
Reaching children left behind
Children living with a disability are among the most marginalised members of their communities. The story of one girl in Laos highlights the need for an inclusive and quality education system, particularly in poor, remote villages, to help transform children’s lives.
By Rita Mu
Like many eight-year-old children, Noy (pictured above) loves to play with her friends.
Sometimes Noy and her friends will play together in their village, other times they will go out to the fields and gather vegetables.
When Noy sees her friends do something or go somewhere, she often wants to do the same or follow them.
When her friends go to school, however, she cannot join them.
Noy was born unable to speak and has an intellectual disability.
She lives in a poor, remote community in eastern Laos, where the majority of families here, including Noy’s, are of the Phong ethnic minority group and rely on farming activities for a living.
Noy is the oldest of three children. She has two younger brothers, aged six and four.
However, unlike her six-year-old brother, who is in preschool, Noy has never attended school.
She cannot read and write.
During the day, while her brother and friends go to school, Noy usually accompanies her mother, Lew, to work on the farm.
Noy longs to join her brother and friends at school.
“When Noy sees her friends going to school, or dancing or exercising, she wants to do the same,” Lew says.
The teachers in Noy’s village, however, have not had the training, experience or resources to properly care for and support Noy.
On school days, Noy will sometimes visit her friends at school during their lunch break to play with them.
Noy wants to go to school, but without adequate support her opportunities are limited.
For children with a disability living in poverty, like Noy, the future is bleak without access to a safe, inclusive and quality education.
When children like Noy have the right tools, resources and support, they have a greater chance of reaching their full potential, and changing their future, and the future of their families and communities.
How you can help
Your support can ensure children living with a disability can access a safe, inclusive and quality education so they can have a brighter future.
Change is needed at both systemic and community levels to ensure that children with a disability have access to safe, inclusive and quality learning environments at school.
ChildFund is implementing education projects at both systemic and community levels.
In the community we are helping to provide families and schools with the support they need. This includes:
• engaging family members on how to support their child’s learning;
• establishing support groups and visits for families;
• helping to identify children with a disability and assisting families to access services;
• equipping teachers with the knowledge to provide tailored lessons for children living with disability, and foster learning environments where all students are respected and included;
• helping school leaders to develop inclusive education plans; and
• developing and providing disability inclusive educational resources.
ChildFund in Laos is also organising village festivals to raise awareness of the rights of children living with disability.
At a systemic level, ChildFund is working closely with local partners, including village chiefs and local and national governments, to implement inclusive education policies and laws, and overall reduce the stigma and discrimination towards children with a disability.
Your support is needed to ensure we can continue this important work, which will help empower vulnerable children like Noy.