What more can we do to help children in Laos?

Children are like sheets of blank paper on which their future is yet to be drawn. They are our most important resource and we look forward to their development. Vientiane Times was present at the World Children’s Day celebrations at Patuxay last weekend and asked young people there what they would like the government to do to provide a bright future for Lao children.


Ms Sounitar Sorsamlarn, a student at Vientiane Secondary School: I feel happy to be a part of the World Children’s Day celebrations. I caught up with old friends and made new friends today and played a lot of games. Also I could exercise, which makes me healthy and beautiful. Other children also had fun and put on a spectacular show for the prime minister. I wish it was possible for children in the rural areas to celebrate this day too. I would like the government to support and encourage indigenous dance forms which will help preserve the rich cultural heritage of Laos. For example, they could help establish dance studios. This would not only help youngsters learn the art form but also help them utilise their free time well and stay away from social ills such as drugs.
Ms Malivanh Chanthaphaly, a student at Vientiane Secondary School: I have met a lot of children with similar interests and made new friends. The place is crowded, but I am excited and looking forward to a fun-filled day. I think children in the countryside and remote areas should also celebrate World Children’s Day.
We should tell them how important they are for society and the role they can play in making us a better people. I request our leaders to create a small association in every community to address children’s needs, especially those with disabilities. They seldom get an opportunity to study. They should be encouraged to join such activities and made part of the mainstream.
Such children are usually creative and laden with talent. We need to explore this and help them in areas in which they can excel.

Mr Anatsaya Phongsavath, a youth volunteer with UNICEF to Laos: I want us to focus on children’s health. Children need to be taught about hygiene, particularly in rural areas. Some children in remote areas do not have access to basic facilities such as toilets. I worry about their health and also about their food habits.
Nutritious food and a balanced diet are important for their development and the country must look at ways to ensure that all children have a healthy diet.
Children are this country’s future and they should be treated as an important asset.

Mr Phongthavysab Phaxaybarn, a student at Vientiane Secondary School: I think parents, teachers and adults should instill good manners in children. For instance, they should be taught to keep the country clean. Children should be taught to not only clean up their homes but to dispose of rubbish only in designated areas. They should be taught the importance of hygiene and why it is important to keep their town and country clean and beautiful. If you teach children early on in life they will become productive adults. In fact, correct behaviour by children can educate adults, so they too can learn that it’s inappropriate to litter the roads and their neighbourhoods. It is equally important that the government arrange for rubbish disposal bins to be placed at strategic points so that everyone knows where to dump garbage. The government should earmark sufficient funding to keep the country clean and beautiful.

Mr Uhaypee Guillen from the Philippines’ Black List Dance Crew: I’m not from Laos, but I love its culture and have made many friends here. I urge the government to set up a dance club. For example, the government could start dance studios for youngsters. These studios could organise children’s dance contests, where they get to showcase their dancing skills.
Dancing should be a regular part of children’s activities. If they are introduced to it an early age, it can help them deal with stage fright and they can participate in local as well as international dance contests.
Dancing is a great way to keep fit and can help children channel their energy in a good way.

Mr Khanpasong Whatana, a student at Kiettisack International School, Vientiane: Although education for children is a must, unfortunately, a lot of children – especially in remote areas – are not able to go to school. In some places schools are very poorly equipped. It is important that these children have access to a decent education. The government should prioritise this – it’s the only way to help them become part of the mainstream society and this will also go a long way to eradicating poverty.

By Phouthong Sivongsa
(Latest Update November 21, 2018)

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