Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Building a Toilet for a Kindergarten School!

Imagine being five years old and having to go to the bathroom--but there is no bathroom, so you have to go out and find a private spot. There' s nowhere to wash your hands, so you get sick. And when the rains comes, you get parasites through your feet from stepping in other children's feces.

Building toilets isn't sexy or exciting--but they save and change lives. That's why we are building another toilet this year for a small kindergarten school in a remote village in Khong District (we had to travel hours by motorbike then take a boat just to get there).

As usual we are working in partnership with the village. This means that we are buying the supplies but they are providing the labour for free--the villagers will build the toilet. This creates a feeling of teamwork and contribution for everyone, which is integral to what we do.

Once we see how this project goes (depending on some managerial factors) we may also build a concrete floor for the kindergarten. They currently have a dirt floor that turns into muck in the monsoon season. Imagine trying to learn while sitting with your feet ankle-deep in muck. Or with dust everywhere in the dry season.

We are grateful to Jin and Joo Lee for helping to raise money for this project (as they did our last project--the Kindergarten Lunch Program). You guys are angels. Thanks a million!

Faye Jackson Volunteers at our Muong Khong Kindergarten Project

Early this year we had an awesome volunteer teacher--Faye Jackson from England--who stayed at the kindergarten school in Muong Khong for two weeks, acting as an observer for our organization and teaching the children some songs/dances etc. She had a blast. Here's the story of her experience...

Report by Faye Jackson

Arriving at the school on the first day was awkward to say the least--no one spoke English and my Lao was limited to "hello," "thank you very much" and "it's hot." I said that last one a lot as it was extremely hot! But once I sat in front of the children with their big brown eyes looking at me, hanging off my every movement, the awkwardness soon vanished!

The children are amazing and so happy to play and be silly (something I had no problem with!). The teachers have also been fantastic and, despite the language barrier, made me feel welcome with their warm smiles and patience; they even managed to teach me some Laos!

It gave me such a thrill to walk up to the gate of the school each morning and be greeted by the cry of "Sabaidee" and lots of happy faces coming to meet me! The children would walk me up to the building of the school, sometimes 2-3 in each hand and a couple dangling off each hip or leg--it was great to feel so welcome!
I managed to teach them how to count from 1-20 and recite their ABCs, which, by the Tuesday of the second week, I heard a couple of the kiddies singing as they played outside (apart from a couple of mis-pronunciations--they got it!). It was brilliant! I also taught them a couple of English songs, such as "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" and "The Hockey Cockey." They loved these songs and got very excited when they knew I was about to sing them!

All in all, it was an amazing experience being part of their lives, even if it was just for two weeks. It's something I know will stay in my heart forever. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity by Shawn and Thanou at Jai Dee Children's Fund to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience.