In February 2013, a team of four Australians; Cath, Mary, Amy and Cathy joined myself and another teacher from Bangkok Helen to embark on an English language workshop with fifteen Lotus girls . The workshop was organised in partnership with Dr. Phoudalay Lathvilavong and held over four days at Thasano station in Savannakhet, Laos.
The object of the course was to provide a cultural exchange program that also focused on learning English and up-skilling the girls in agricultural techniques. The Australian team had compiled a variety of creative resources that included art, dance and music activities. many long hours were spent in the classroom amid much laughter and smiles were a permanent fixture on the girls faces. By day four, the language of the classroom was a mixture of both Lao and English.
This proved to be a valuable experience for all involved and also served to validate the effectiveness of the work that the Lotus Educational Fund has been actively supporting in Laos. “To empower girls from low socio-economic communities and provide access to better life chances through education.”
When we met with the 44 Lotus girls and their parents on the final day all strongly voiced their desire to remain in school until their secondary education has been completed. It was evident that all valued education as a source of improving the livelihood of the girls. Whether they study to be a doctor, teacher, chicken farmer or nurse, all girls expressed a strong desire to return to their village and share their skills.
Lotus has promised to commit to providing six years of secondary schooling for the 44 girls. In fact the need to broaden and extend our project has been actualized as we are also enrolling another 40 young girls into Grade 1 in September 2013. This is a big achievement for an organization that started from a dinner party discussion in Newcastle in 2008.
Today we are a committed group of people who come from a variety of sectors, and our ideals are supported by the student and parent community in Australia. If you would like to become involved or support this project please feel very welcome as the ripple effect is working. Girls can and do make a difference!