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Volunteers giving back to help educate the poor

Feeling rich is not how much we have but it's how much we can give to other people who need our help.

Have you ever asked yourself whether it is better to give or to receive?

Anyone who has given something to others knows that giving is guaranteed to lift your spirits. This is because you see people smile after they receive something from you which makes your heart full of happiness and always make you feel good whenever you think about it.

Vithaya Volunteer Group performing at the Vientiane Walking Street.

Every country in the world has rich and poor people but we can live together in peace because we help each other.

One such group of young people with this philosophy is a team from the Faculty of Sciences at National University of Laos. Going by the name Vithaya Volunteer Group, for the last six months they have been holding activities in public and asking for donations to help poor schools in the countryside.

We all know education is very important for developing people, society and the nation but many schools are still underprivileged, especially in rural areas, which it makes it difficult to erase illiteracy and reduce poverty in Laos.

Some schools don't have basic materials for reading and writing such as textbooks as well as basic sporting equipment. Schools need these materials so they can engage with students and keep them enrolled.

Vithaya Volunteer Group is made up of young NUoL students and lecturers who began giving their time back to society by performing music and singing along with other activities at the Food Centre in NUoL back in February 2017 then again at the Book Shop.

Head of the troupe MrChanthasithPhouthihong told Vientiane Times that Vithaya Volunteer Group is a not-for-profit organisation with all the money they earn going to help poor schools with none of their members receiving a penny.

After their two initial performances many other people expressed interest, so they talked to NUoL to ask for more volunteers with other experience to join.

Since then they have entertained crowds in Vientiane at the Chou Anouvong Park Night Market, Walking Street near the Mekong River, Patuxay, along with That Luang Park and Specific Economic Zone.

Their performances include a hip hop show, ballet, taekwondo, pop and classical music, and also comedy routines.

From these activities they have earned around 24 million from public donations and have already spent 16 million to buy education and sporting materials for Dondeng Secondary School in Pathoumphone district, Champassak province.

Such is the success of the volunteer venture they now have 89 members in the group giving up their free time to perform.

At the end of May, Vithaya Volunteer Group also held a football tournament at NUoL to earn funds with nine teams joining.

Last Saturday, the group donated education and sporting materials to Kiewkacham Secondary School in Xiengngeun district and Thabokeo Secondary School in Phoukhoun district, LuangPrabang province.

“We have researched many provinces in Laos and found that many schools are still lacking education and sporting materials. We would like to be a part of supporting their school dream”, MrChanthasith said.

“We chose the two schools in LuangPrabang last time because some of our team members went there before as teacher volunteers and they found the schools really needed help and some students didn't have enough warm clothes for winter, so we also brought them recycled and new clothes that we collected,” he explained.

Not content with just fundraising for poor schools, the energetic Vithaya Volunteer Group also contributes to cleaning along the Mekong River Bank as well as organising public and official events.

Wooden furniture of Ban LakXao (20Km) village in Khamkeuth district, Borikhamxay province is owned by the family of MsPhouvanhMittaphap and has been producing furniture for a long time.

MsPhouvanh recently represented her district to display her wooden furniture and home decor items, and Lao traditional skirts at Lao-Viet Fair to mark the 40th anniversary of the friendship treaty and the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations between both countries at Lao-ITECC in Vientiane from June 29 to July 3.

The fair is also promoted Lao-Vietnamese products and cooperation.

MsPhouvanh told Vientiane Times that she was very happy to represent the district at a big event in the capital, especially Lao-Viet Fair. Meanwhile, her products were becoming well known to domestic and foreign customers.

She appreciated the many producers and wanted to thank her customers and everyone who had visited her booth and bought wooden products.

MsPhouvanh's family has been solely in handicraft production for more than 13 years, and the business can sufficiently support them.

MsPhouvanh also said her family decided to begin operating this business because her husband had skills in carving and making wooden furniture, having been a carpenter for a long time. Meanwhile, she was also able to receive support from the provincial youth fund to build a small factory.

Her husband MrSomneuakMittaphap, 53, said “We began operating our factory in 2004 and became a registered factory operation in 2009. Now there are five carvers working in our small factory.”

“Our products are special because we design wooden furniture from different ideas and have developed an identity from our own designs. The price of the furniture ranges from 50,000 kip to 20 million kip,” he explained.

He said the products included tea sets and other home decor with pictures of pumpkin and eggplant, table and chair sets, and other styles of furniture.

“Carving the simple pieces of wood we can change those pieces into our unique products.” he added.

Most customers in Vientiane are businessmen, both domestic and foreign people who love the wooden furniture collection, which allows his business to earn more than 100 million kip each year.



By PatithinPhetmeuangphuan
(Latest Update July 10, 2017)


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