Southern Asia > Laos

A Long Road Home

Laos, a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, has a long history of turmoil. Plagued by civil unrest and forced into the Vietnam War and World War II, Laos holds the unfortunate distinction of being the most bombed country, per capita, in the world. For a country that relies on subsistence agriculture, primarily slash and burn, for half of its GDP and 85% of its employment, this has been devastating. Being one of East Asia’s poorest countries, Laos is heavily dependent on foreign aid as well as remittances from Laotian peoples living abroad. It is within this chaos that the small villages lie, overlooked and deemed unimportant by large scale socioeconomic entities. Dr. Luc Janssens, president of the Laos Rehabilitation Foundation (LRF), however, feels differently.

With the vision to achieve poverty eradication while working in harmony with local communities, The LRF provides medical services to Laotian citizens, with a focus on child- ren. Much of the Laotian population goes without basic human necessities such as food, water and shelter. It is the primary goal of the LRF to change this by bringing adequate nutrition, basic hygiene, access to clean water, decent shelters and education to the for-gotten children of Laos.

Brought together by mutual friends and the shared passion for serving others, Waterhope partnered with Luc and the LRF in 2009 to help bring life giving water to two remote areas: the Namor District in Oudomxay province and Ban Nam Yang, an Akha village in northern Laos.

in ban nam yang, young girls walk 1km to collect visibly contaminated water on a 45 degree slope. Numerous potential water sources were evaluated over the last two years; however, without electricity in the village, they have not been a reality. As of October 2011, we were excited to hear that power lines are now in place. With this new development the LRF plan to move forward in their goal of bringing water to Ban Nam Yang and other locations in the surrounding region. In Namor, prior to the completion of the water project in November 2010, villagers relied on the heavily polluted Houixang River and spring water located 5km away for drinking, cooking and hygienic purposes. Women and children spent considerable amounts of time a day retrieving dirty water for their families, continually spreading diarrhea and typhoid fever. As of January 10, 2011, a gravity-fed piping and filtration system brings fresh water to over 1,000 people in 16 taps through-out the village! These projects not only decrease the workload for women and children, they greatly improve the quality of life and hope for the future.

Through the endless generosity of our sponsors and donors, Waterhope is able to continue our support of the LFR. In the upcoming 2012 year we will be purchasing the drilling equipment needed to start a 3 year long drilling expedition! Ban Nam Yang willbe the first area served, followed by subsequent well projects in Santong and Savanaketh. As our blanket of service extends across Laos, we are even more grateful for the opportunities presented to us and for our dear friendship with Luc Janssens and the Laos Rehabilitation Foundation.