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Pictures from Laos: The second project phase (March 2015)

Cowbank:

A new project activity that was started this year is the so-called cowbank. Last year we gave forage seeds for cattle to 10 poor model families. 8 of them have grown the forage and therefore now received each a cow from us. When the cow delivers her first calf, the family has to give it to another poor family who will be selected by the village elders. Afterwards the first family can keep the mother and all further calfs for themselves.

Transport of cows 1:

In the beginning I thought it would be an easy thing to buy cows but apparently I was not right. In Laos cows are most of the time not kept in stables or pens but are left roaming around freely. This is the simplest way for the owner because the animals look after themselves and the owner does not have to provide food for them.


Transport of cows 2:

In the end we found someone who was ready to sell us some of his cows but unfortunately it was quite far from our project villages. The first idea was to let the model families walk with the cows back home but since the animals are always free, they are not used to people and therefore it would be very difficult to walk with them a long distance. Finally we tied 2 cows on a Chinese mini-tractor and transported the third one with our Landcruiser. Poor animals…


Water analysis:

Before we start the construction of a new water system or before we allow people to drink the water from our self-made biosand-waterfilters we analyze the water for bacteriological and chemical contamination. To send all water samples to a laboratory would be very expensive and time consuming therefore we bought a test kit that allows us to the all the necessary test ourselves.


Water analysis 2:

This is how the result of a bacteriological test looks like. We grow the bacteria in an incubator on a special culture medium. Every bacteria colony that appears yellow is potentially pathogen. For drinking water the number of yellow colonies (coliform bacteria) should be less than 10 for a 100 ml water sample.

Brooms 1:

This old lady is making her living with the production of brooms. She collects the grass in the forest and fields around the village, dries them in her home and then braids them to brooms. One of those broom she sells for around 1 Euro. It is a lot of work for little money but at least it is better than nothing.


Brooms 2:

This is the house of the old lady with the grass laid out for drying.


Handwashing buckets:

One aim of the project is that in the end every household in our project villages has and uses a toilet. This means an increase from less than 10% to more than 90% within 3 years. When we teach the people about toilets it always includes the topic of hand washing after each time someone uses the toilet. In order to motivate people to put this into practice we give to every family that finished their toilet and uses it such a bucket with a water tap. This concept seems to be working quite well as we see more and more people washing their hands with soap.

Books:

There are only very few books available in Lao language. But there is one organization that tries to address this problem buy translating all kinds of children’s books. These books are available for purchase in some shops in the bigger cities but they have also a project in which they distribute a set of books to schools. This year it was the first time that I saw them coming to Attapeu Province. They distributed books in many schools including some schools that are in our project villages. It is really great to see how the children read with full concentration!



The house of Mr. Ing 2:

His village is not far from Attapeu and therefore we decided to offer him a job for longer-term: to build the water filters for our project. He accepted and it allowed him to earn for several month something like 7 Euro a day. This helped him a lot and in the end he managed to buy an old motorcycle and to repair his house (we gave him some corrugated iron sheets for the roofing). It is wonderful to see how much the life of this family changed through this small assistance that we were able to give him.

School  1:

And one other new activity: for the dry season this year I employed a young woman who is doing health education with the children in school every time we go to the villages. Depending on the size of each village, there are between 20 and 100 children in one school.


School 2:

Together with our „teacher“ we are trying invent some interesting activities and teaching materials for this health education lessons. People here are not used to interactive teaching and therefore it is a completely new experience for most of the kids. We bought e.g. colored pencils but when we told them to color the pictures some of them did not know at all what to do because they had never seen or done something like this. The only thing they have are exercise books and simple pens.


Toy cars:

As everywhere in the world, also here boy love toy cars. They just look a bit different than the ones we have in Germany. Most of them the boys build themselves or their parents make them out of bamboo and wood. They have one big advantage: the children can use them to transport the water from the water places to their houses so that the hard work becomes easier or even turns into a game.

The house of Mr. Ing 1:

Mr. Ing is part of one of our model families. At the beginning of the project he lived with his wife and 2 children in a very poor hut that seemed to be close to collapsing at any minute. The family doesn’t own any rice field which is very important for most of the families in order to survive in spite of poverty. Therefore he tried to earn money as a daily worker in town. But in order to reach there he had to walk nearly 10 km and even then he could never be sure to find a work for the day.


Oyster mushrooms 1:

Another new activity in this project phase is the cultivation of oyster mushrooms. We tried it in 2 villages that are not too far from Attapeu in order to have a market to sell the crops. In one of the 2 villages it is working very well but in the second village unfortunately not at all and we are not sure what the problem is.


Oyster mushroom 2:

The mushrooms are grown on a mixture of saw dust, rice husk, sugar and some other ingredients. The whole mixture is filled into plastic bags and then sterilized by boiling. Afterwards all the bags are inoculated with the mushroom culture and a few weeks later the first mushrooms are ready to be eating or sold. The harvest lasts around 6 months. When it works as well as in our first village it is a great activity that gives some good additional income to the family.

Celebration:

At certain opportunities the villages slaughter a cow or a buffalo in order to organize a big celebration for all the people. In the ethnic group of the Talieng they are used to boil the blood of the animal together with rice flour. In the end you have a thick mash with some parts of meat inside. I have not yet tried it and I think I don’t really want to…


Clothes for children:

A friend from Germany is collecting clothes for children and sends it to us partly in parcels and partly with visitors. This allowed us to distribute in the last cold season nice and warm winter clothes to small children. In some of the mountain villages it becomes really cold in this season (5°C in the night) and many children have nothing else than a simple t-shirt. It’s no wonder that so many kids suffer from common cold and lung infections!


Jackfruit 1:

We planted this Jackfruit tree together with one of our model families at the beginning of the project. Now, after 3 years, it is already grown to a big tree and bearing it’s first fruit.

Jackfruit 2:

This is one of its fruits. It was a special experience for me to eat this really tasty fruit and to hence see the „fruit“ of our work.


Forage:  

This is one of the gardens where a model family grows forage for their cow. It has to be properly fenced otherwise the other free roaming cows would eat up everything immediately.


Nongfa:

Again and again a picture from this beautiful environment. Our project village was situated next to the lake but last year they were resetteled by the local authorities. They say that they want to develop this region for tourism. From the environment it would be possible but it is 180 km far from Attapeu and of this 80 km on a difficult dirt road. Will there really be tourists coming out that far just to see the lake??


Centipede:

This cute little fellow always stirs up everybody around when it appears. People say that it is very painful when it stings someone and it appears to be quite aggressive and fast. They are even more afraid of it then of scorpions. Nevertheless, they try to catch it because the Chinese are ready to pay quite some money for these animals in order to use it for traditional medicine.