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Pictures from Laos: Roads in the rainy season and lots of other things (August 2011) -

ຮູບກ່ຽວກັບລະດູຝົນ, ທາງທີ່ຍາກແລະສິ່ງອື່ນໆ (ເດືອນ8ປີ2011)

Health Center opening ceremony (07.08.2011)

Beginning of July we officially opened our first health centre. Actually it was not yet completely finished - the rooms were not yet painted and the toilet and kitchen were still missing. But the rainy season started this year very early and we were worried that the village would be not accessible any more if we waited longer. The government had agreed and so we made a big celebration on the 6th June. Quite a number of important visitors from the provincial government came for the inauguration.

A new road (07.08.2011)

After 4 days of waiting, the situation became worse and worse instead of better. And in addition, he couldn’t contact us because there is no telephone reception in this area. We were really worried and decided to send someone on foot to look for him. But finally he decided to take a road into the other directon. A road that is ususally only used for people on foot or motorbikes but not for cars, but it was his last chance to bring the car back this year. Because the rainy season takes until October and then too more 2 months for the roads to dry up until it’s possible to pass again.

River (07.08.2011)

Our worry about the road condition was justified. Just few days after the opening ceremony the road was so bad that it was imposible to pass. The problem was that one of our staff was still in the village to finalize the work. And when we wanted to come back, it was already impossible. On the picture you can see the first of 2 rivers that we need to cross when we want to go to the village. During the dry season it is already a bit tricky because there are some deep spots that are difficult to see and pass. But in the rainy season it is very dangerous. Therefore our staff had to go back to the village and wait for the rains to stop.

A new road 2 (07.08.2011)

10 people from the village went with our staff to help him. This was necessary because very often there was no way to pass. Many trees on the way, trees that were too big to cut them. Therefore they had to cut deviations into the forest instead.

A new road 3 (07.08.2011)

You cannot really call it a road, can you?!

Winch (07.08.2011)

The soil in this region becomes very slippery when it is wet. It starts sticking to the wheels which makes it impossible to drive uphill. The only solution is to use the winch, but since it takes to long to fix it to the trees every few meters, the 10 helpers decided to pull the car themseves up the hill. You can see the smoke on the pictures? It’s coming from the spinning wheels…

Fruit trees 1 (07.08.2011)

A major problem in all our project villages is the lack of food, especially of well balanced food. Therefore we are planning to change our main topic of work for the next year from health to agriculture. One key activity e.g. will be the introduction of vegetable gardens. In May we started distributing fruit trees to 4 villages. Each family got 2 seedlings from us. We chose a lot of different types of tropical fruits and we hope that there will be a good variety for the people to eat in future.

Fruit trees 2 (07.08.2011)

We bought the fruit seedlings from Pakse (a bigger town around 200 km from Attapeu). But hence an organised transport is nearly more expensive than the trees, we decided to pick them up with our own car. It was nearly incredible, but we managed to put 400 seedlings into our Landcruiser! I was a bit worried that the young plants would not survive the journey, but there was no problem. Until the final distribution we will leave them in the garden at my home.

Lunch (07.08.2011)

Finally, they made it. 7 hours for 10 km. After the 10 km the road was much better and our staff could continue alone. They still had lunch together and the the helper walked back into their village.

How relieved we were when we finally got his call that everything is on the way back and that everything is ok!!

The people that were looking for him on foot came back one day later. They had walked around 80 km in 2 days through mud and water only to bring us the news we knew already by this time.

Vulcano lake „Nong Fa“ (07.08.2011)

In May our local staff asked me to make a one-day excursion to a very special place: it is a lake in the middle of the highest mountains in this area, around 1200m altitude just before the vietnamese border. It is quite a famous place, but it is so remote that only few people are going there. And it was indeed a long journey for one day, but it was worth it. An absolutely beautiful spot! We had a picknick next to the lake and a walk around it. Everyone took took lots of pictures. And then we went back to Attapeu in the afternoon.

Wasserfall (07.08.2011)

Ein weiterer Ausflug. Diesmal aber nicht ganz so weit weg von Attapeu. Hier in der Gegend gibt es zahlreiche Wasserfälle, einer schöner und beeindruckender als der andere. Manche sind recht stark besucht von den Einheimischen, aber viele sind auch sehr abgelegen und einsam. Touristen gibt es hier bislang nur sehr wenige.

Diarrhea (07.08.2011)

Actually it was already in the middle of the rainy season and we didn’t have any plans to go to the villages in this month. But then, it was Saturday early in the morning, we recieved an emergency cal from 2 of our project villages: they were suffering from a severe diarrhea outbreak and it was too much for them to handle. Since there was a cholera outbreak in exactly this reagion the year before, we decided to immediatly go there. Luckily, these 2 villages are possible to access most of the time during the year - as long as it is not raining heavily. But we were lucky and had no problems. In the 2 villages we found more than 50 people with severe acute diarrhea. They had slaughtered and eaten a sick goat. And everyone who had a share, got seriously sick. But fortunately it was no cholera and within few days the situation was back to normal.

Village pharmacy (07.08.2011)

Before the beginning of the rainy season we handed over pharmacies to all our project villages. The training of our health volunteers has now progressed far enough that they can treat themselves the most important diseases. And since most of our project villages are not accessible during the rainy season, it was important for us to distribute the pharmacies before. After the rainy season we will get to know if and how well it worked. We are very interested to see the results!

Animal sacrifice (07.08.2011)

During one village visit, we were brought to an elderly lady who was suffering from very servere stomach pain and cramps. It took us some hours to understand the reason for the severe pain: she had collected and eaten mushrooms in the forest! In order to help her, her family decided to slaughter a pig as sacrifice for the spirits. And since we were giving her medicine, we were allowed to assist the ceremony. The blood of the pig was collected in a bowl. Then an old lady came. She took the blood and went to the sick lady. There she blew over the blood in direction of the sick lady and she was talking all the time - unfortunatly I didn’t get anything of what she said. The Family explained us that she will bring the blood afterwards in the forest in order to calm the spirits. The next day, the patient was not yet better and the family decided to do the same procedure again, but this time with a buffalo. Like this a family can loose a lot of money within few days!

Team briefing (07.08.2011)

Here we are doing a team briefing in the house of the village chef. It is really a joy to work with my team, they bring in a lot of good ideas and from time to time they even dare to tell their opinion if something is not good (this is very uncommon in the asian culture). In frot of the picture you can see the village chef. We are explaining him what we will do during this visit. It is very important that the chief is convinced of our activities and helps us to communicate it to the villagers. If this is not the case, we will have only litle chance to reach the population.

Village development volunteers (07.08.2011)

Our volunteers are not recieving any money from us for the work they are doing. Sometimes this is not so easy to accept for them but it is necessary in order to reach sustainability. In order to give them at least  some little reward, we gave all of them a SFE t-shirt and everytime we do trianing with them they recieve some soap or a pen and a bok etc. But I think, most of them understood now why we do it like this and they are nevertheless ready to work.