This month, Feminartsy is raising funds for a truly wonderful organisation, Hand Up Laos. Funds raised at our launch event on June 20 in Canberra will go towards supporting Hand Up Laos, and you can also donate directly through their crowdfunding campaign.
Here, we chat to Co-founder and Director of Education Initiatives and Marketing, Sasha Peakall to learn more about Hand Up Laos.
Tell us a bit about Hand Up Laos’ mission.
Our mission is to work together with impoverished communities in the Vang Vieng area of central Laos empowering them for more prosperous futures through improving the quality of education in local schools and promoting the idea of “Our School, Our Future” amongst the local community.
Why did you start Hand Up Laos?
In 2012 I spent six months volunteering as an English teacher in Vang Vieng, Laos. During my time there I made friends with one of the local staff members, Seang, and it was through him I was able to spend more time in the community, in local homes and particularly spend time with the local children. During my time there I discovered not only just how poor these communities were despite the tourism boom over the past few years but also that the lack of a quality education and widespread illiteracy was at the root of the problem.
Having spent the past nearly three years teaching in China, and spending time volunteering with a migrant children’s literacy program I had become passionate about education and knew that something had to change. I knew I had to do my best to make a difference for the children and communities of Vang Vieng; the question was, ‘How?’
In December 2013 Seang and I visited Naxai Village 10 km from Vang Vieng town where we got to talking to some of the leaders within the community and the principle of the local school. We asked them what they saw was the problem preventing children from getting a quality education. There was a general consensus that poor school infrastructure, the lack of toilets and running water and a lack of teaching resources and books were the key contributors. Being one of the poorer villages in the area, the leaders of Naxai were extremely passionate and motivated to improve their situation and were very receptive to our ideas and input. We decided to do what we could to help them with their first goal, of rebuilding the school and from these conversations “Hand Up Laos” was officially born.
What’s the biggest thing you hope to achieve through the charity?
At the core of our mission and the reason we started Hand Up Laos is to “Improve the quality of education” in the local community. This is a massive undertaking but one we believe we can achieve by improving local infrastructure, providing resources and training for teachers on how best to use them and by engaging and inspiring newly graduated teachers to be more effective teachers and good role models within their communities. We believe that the key to getting these programs up and running and successful is by empowering women and girls by providing them with better education opportunities so that whether they want to become a teacher or just a stay at home mum they will be great mentors and leaders in their communities and will help us drive these education initiatives.
If we could see every child graduate primary school literate and every girl go on to graduate high school that would be our ultimate goal and achievement!
How can people help?
Donate: The first is to donate to our crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds to rebuild Naxai Primary School.
Volunteer: Join our “Womens Only” two-week volunteer and travel program this September where volunteers will help with minor construction tasks and painting at Naxai School and run programs for children. In the afternoons we take volunteers to experience the fantastic attractions and activities around Vang Vieng. Email Sasha for more details – firstname.lastname@example.org
Spread the Word: Like our Facebook page and share it and our posts with your friends.
For more information visit handuplaos.org