Give Children A Choice’s first visit to Yodt Phair was in 2008. That trip was to visit UXO survivor Mr. Yelee Yang. Our initial goal was to ensure his children continued to attend school, despite Mr. Yelee’s struggles to adjust to his new situation. At the time, it took 10 hours to travel by truck and by foot. Access to some village groups were only by foot. Today, with the new and improved roads (and during dry weather), it takes 3-4 hours. Travel times will be greatly improved when a new “inter-provincial highway” completes.
Yodt Phair’s predecessor villages were heavily bombed and destroyed during the US Secret War. The entire village population migrated to Vietnam or Vientiane during the late 1960s. Villagers returned to their homes during the mid-1970s and 1980s. Yodt Phair, as we know it today, was formed in 1989. The village grew and renewed, despite being UXO infested. UXO removal programs and UXO risk education has reduced UXO casualties but accidents remain a risk. The school grounds have previously been cleared of UXO and we are awaiting confirmation paperwork.
Yodt Phair is a poor village. 93% of the villager families are farmers and have rice fields. 6% grow upland rice. Average incomes remain in the $1 to $2 per day range.
Yodt Phair is comprised of five groups or sub-villages. Only one group retains its historical name Nongkhouang due to its distance from the other sub-villages. There are approximately 970 people in Yodt Phair, 207 families. Government birth control programs have substantially slowed growth. There are 95 primary school aged children; approximately 60 children ages 3 to 5 as well as 56 in the 0 to 2 year old range.
The preschool children’s current count and forecasts suggest a two-room preschool. But at the Provincial Education Department’s request we wanted to accommodate the existing three-grade preschool program, a separate class for 3, 4 and 5 year olds. We reduced our traditional two 7 x 8 or 56 square meter classrooms (total 112 square meters) to three 6 x 6 or 36 square meter classrooms (total 108 square meters).
The preschool program started in Yodt Phair two years ago and they meet in the community meeting hall. Preschool teachers are in place. Trained. Paid regularly.
We thank Michael and Denise McCarthy for their generous support.
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