Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Laos Update: November 29, 2010

Yesterday Mike received an update from Steve about what's been happening since he arrived in Laos. Below is a portion of that email.

Yesterday was a really long day but fruitful. I met with the regional Governor, the General Manager for Hygiene and Water and the General Manager of Education, all located in Non Khiaw. They are all coming to celebrate the opening of the first of schools. He, [the] Governor, was joking with us when he said that we stole 2 schools (meaning that we skipped all the red tape and the processes required for approval) and that he wished we would steal more. I am guessing that they get bogged down all the time with process and they are pretty happy with the results when I skipped them. After that we visited the village with the mud hole for a water source. They can't use the one that I had a picture of, but there were three more locations we trekked to. The only reliable one was about an hour trek each way - there is a really small one that is only 20 minutes and the water is relatively clear but it is so small, certainly not enough to feed a whole village. And the hygiene is simply non existent. There was one guy who was really thirsty and simply went down to this mirky water to take a drink - I wouldn't let him and gave him my water. They [bathe] in a nearby river where there is also excrement (human and other) plus this where they say there are often dead animals and also where they dump the remains of people who have died. Once back to the village there I found that there were no latrines of any kind - they just go behind the bushes. It was a sad story indeed. I am looking forward to going back to announce our intentions to provide a new water source and to provide water filters. At least they will be able to take showers, etc. I will also try to convince them that they need latrines, even if they aren't up to our standards.
It was a long day yesterday, but I managed to [summarize] all of their requests below.
The Governor has told us that the government's mandate is to provide at least temporary roads to all villages in the district before they can focus on water sources followed by schools. There are still 48 villages without a temporary road. From the education ministry there are 11 schools on their list requiring immediate assistance. From the Hygiene/Water Department there are 6 villages without a reliable water source. Total - 65 projects. I have to review the AAVIL mandate but I don't think village access is one of them unless it prevents us from building a school. (AAVIL - Adopt a Village in Laos). The big problem is the bridges.
Anyway I have asked for much more information and will take it back to Rick Norlock [Member of Parliament for Port Hope] to see if the Canadian Government may be able to give us any assistance.
For Cleve and Ron [Rotary Club members] - don't even think that I am considering trying to do all of the projects. It is tough enough to manage four or five projects at the same time, let alone 65.

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