What do you see as being the meaning of charity?
Charitable organisations are present in almost every country, working to help people who are poor, ill or disadvantaged in some way. These groups reach out to wider society and provide invaluable services. To mark International Day of Charity today, Vientiane Times asked some local residents what they understand by the concept of charity


Mr Thatsaphone Luangrhad, a vendor in Saphanthong village: To me, it means giving to people who are in need without expecting anything in return. Of course, we have a perfect example of this right now in Attapeu province, where thousands of people have been made homeless because of the terrible flood there. In response, groups from other countries rushed to provide help. They genuinely wanted to offer help, without hoping to profit in any way. But I did notice that some people went to help just so they could publicise their actions and let everyone know they were doing a good thing. They just went to flooded areas and took lots of photos to show their so-called commitment to the flood relief effort. I wanted to tell some donors to offer help from their hearts, as if to their family, not just fake it.

Mr Phetsamai Thepvongsa, a resident of Xaythany district: Charity means offering help to people who are poor. For instance, when I lived in a rural area as a child, I recall my father taking me to queue up to have an injection given by a foreign doctor as part of a team who came to my village with a charitable foundation. They gave us free vaccine. Charity is not limited, it comes from what’s in your mind and you can be charitable and help others whenever possible.

Mr Phouvanh Vongnakhone, a second-year student at the National University of Laos: In my understanding, everything we do for other people without compensation is a form of charity. In Laos we are Buddhists and our religion teaches us to make donations without getting anything back, which brings happiness to both the giver and the receiver. I always go to offer alms at the temple. My last act of charity was to give some supplies for the flood victims in Attapeu province through the One Heart Foundation.

Ms Thavyvone Khammany, an official in Hadxaifong district: When I was a teenager I was a volunteer with an NGO working in rural development. They taught young people about the importance of giving selflessly, which is a lesson I have remembered ever since. Working as an unpaid volunteer mean that what I did was for charity.

Ms Kodsakone Duangdara, a student in Chanthabouly district: Last year I took part in an activity at my school to raise money for people affected by the floods in Huaphan province. My friend suggested that I get involved so I looked into the details and got really interested. My friends and I practised a dance to perform at Chao Anouvong Park where a donation box was set up for people in Huaphan. I was very proud of what I did to contribute to society by doing something interesting and productive to help my fellow countrymen.

By Phouthong Sivongsa
(Latest Update September 5, 2018)

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