Better Days for Hill Tribe Students
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Better Days for Hill Tribe Students

Our Southeast Asia team spends a rewarding day improving the facilities at a Laotian school

Just 25 miles south of Luangprabang—the ancient, royal capital of Laos—lies the tiny, hillside village of Ban Kew Mak Nao 1, population 429. All 73 families residing here belong to the Khamu Hill Tribe, whom OAT travelers meet on the Ancient Kingdoms: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam & Cambodia adventure.

Ten years ago, a school was constructed here. Today, it is attended by 178 students in grades 1-5, under the instruction of three teachers. Funds were limited, however, so the school was built without toilets, requiring students and teachers to walk home or go into the jungle to answer the call of nature.

On July 1 of this year, Rung Chatchaloemwut, Grand Circle Corporation's Regional General Manager for Southeast Asia, and Ton Rerkdee, Operations & Program Services Manager for Thailand, Burma, and Laos, led a team of six Laotian Trip Leaders, a Trip Leader from neighboring Thailand, and ten villagers to help change these children's lives by arranging for the installation of three toilets. A Grand Circle Foundation grant of $1,000 helped to support the project.

As the Grand Circle team arrived, 30 students were on hand to welcome them with applause. The villagers had prepared the paints and brushes needed to paint the facilities, and the children helped out by walking to the village pond to collect water in buckets, as no other water resources are available at the school.

When the project was completed, Unhuen Rassamee, Chief of the village, expressed his appreciation, saying, "On behalf of Ban Kew Mak Nao 1 Village, we would like to thank Grand Circle Foundation for their support for our school and village. Now our students do not need to run back home or go to the bush during class. Thank you, Grand Circle Foundation, for improving the quality of life of our students today and our next generation."