'As home of our first Give Children A Choice preschool in Laos, Aine Savanh Village will always be very special to us. We first visited Aine Savanh in 2000 and returned many times before building our first preschool there. We assisted the village by building a cistern and laying a water line. We installed electricity in a small group of homes and the village primary school. We empowered the village leaders to secure the necessary government approvals to build a preschool. They did it!'
Dori Shimoda, Founder, Give Children A Choice
Located twenty minutes from the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang, Aine Savanh is a poor village located between Highway 13 and the Khan River. The incredibly beautiful Tad Sae waterfalls are five minutes by boat from the village. Life in the village is simple. The villagers always have welcoming smiles and share the little they have. Yet, underneath their smiles are challenges.
Overcome with the beauty of the children and the many limits they face in any effort to reach adulthood with an opportunity for advancement, Dori learned quickly that the solutions required fewer dollars and more a combination of a big heart, vision and a willingness to invest time with the villagers and their leaders.
In late 2001 and early 2002, we assisted the villagers by building a cistern and laying a water line so little girls no longer had to walk so far to carry water back to their homes. We also assisted them by installing electricity in a group of approximately 20 homes and in the village primary school. During these early projects, we started to figure out how to make change happen.
These early visits to Aine Savanh and the passion and commitment to help the children of this village and many others were the driving forces that led us to form Give Children A Choice as a 501c3 nonprofit corporation in 2002.
While acquainting ourselves with the villagers and their children, we learned about a pervasive attendance problem at school, which thwarted kids' desire to learn and their ability to grow academically. Many of the children, mostly girls, were not able to attend school due to their responsibility for the care of their younger siblings.
Dori sketched the initial design for the first preschool, and made contact with a construction company in late 2002. The school opened in March 2003 and is now thriving.
We have revisited Aine Savanh many times since the construction of their preschool. In 2004 we celebrated the building's enhancement. It was originally an open sided structure and is now enclosed, complete with tile roof.
We could not be more hopeful for the children of Aine Savanh and appreciative of the donors who've made this and subsequent Give Children A Choice preschools come to life.