Last week we promised photos of the elementary school building that we helped build in a small mountain village in Laos. If you read this post, then you will get the background info and before photos of the school. This is the third and final post on our trip to Thailand and Laos, and I hope you enjoy seeing the almost finished product.
We also built a playground for the school. We painted tires for the playground’s jungle gym. The playground’s design was developed by students at Michigan State University for a friend of ours. They used items that are easily found in third world countries. They created a handbook full of designs, materials, and directions needed for different playground equipment. And by the way, the school building you see there is still being used by the pre-school. It was not the worst building on the school’s campus.
Luckily, one of the men in our group was an architect, and he drew up a plan for a local welder to create the frame for the swings.
The children were even fascinated withe the tree swing. You can see the new school building in the background. They still needed to do some finish work.
Mr. Right and I were so happy to contribute the ways and means for the playground. You can see that our “clients” are happy with the end results.
This is our German friend Lucas. He and his girlfriend Katarina are bicycling in Laos, China, India, Thailand for several months. We met them at our guest house, and they joined us for our week of work. He is studying to be a teacher, and Katarina is a social worker, so this project was right up their alley. They were such hard workers and added a European touch to our group.
Not only did our group paint the new school building, but they also painted the exterior of an existing building.
This is the view out the back windows of the school. They are surrounded by breath-taking natural beauty and views of mountains.
Now, get this. The older children in the high school ride their bikes to school in the morning, back home for lunch, back to the school after lunch, and then home again in the afternoon. The temperatures were between 90 and 100 every day we were there, and the humidity was super high. They also do this in the rainy season. They use umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun. Some of the children ride several miles each way, and most of their bicycles were in bad condition. I think we could have had a bike repair clinic and been busy the whole time we were there.
At the end of our week in the village, they had a big celebration for us including a traditional Laos ceremony. This room was set up for the ceremony in the almost finished school building. We drank potions, had rice sprinkled on us…..
….. received ribbons that we were to wear for three days to have good luck, etc. This ceremony was very important to them. Along with our team, the room had Laotian officials and someone like a medicine man.
There were also dancers followed by a big celebratory meal.
I even got up the nerve to have another photo taken with the two security guards and their AK 47’s.
After the week in the countryside, we returned to Vientiane, again on a six-hour bus ride through the curving roads on the mountains. Mr. Right and I stayed there a few days before coming home and enjoyed being a tourist. This room was a welcome sight.
One quick story before I go. See the arc in the bottom right hand corner? Well, in the 1960’s, the USA sent the country of Laos money to build a new airport runway. Instead, they took the money and built this arc so that they would have one like Paris. Its nickname is the “Vertical Runway.” It was just beautiful.