I was at a local village primary school in Vang Vieng, Laos in December 2006. I saw this little girl and started talking to her. She kept frowning at me. I don’t think she understood a word I said and most probably thought I was cuckoo in the head for chatting away. I wanted to give her a big bear hug. Her threatening frown said “talk, but don’t you DARE hug me.” 🙂
Laos was then ranked 135 out of 177 countries in the 2004 Human Development Report and the most underdeveloped country in the Mekong region, ranking even lower than Cambodia and Vietnam. We bought stationery, posters and footballs to give to the children in the primary schools along the rural roads. Most of these schools receive no funding from government or otherwise and are community based projects.
It was a touching experience, seeing the children lined up outside their shack like classroom, barefoot and dirty, beaming from ear to ear at their newly acquired pencils and notebooks. Incredibly hungry to learn and exceedingly grateful for being given a chance.