We traveled to Dindam Village to formally handover our/their new preschool to the district education department and to the Dindam villagers. We celebrated the handover. We gave vitamins to the Dindam village preschool-aged children. We were warmly embraced (in some cases, literally) by the villagers. They were happy to see us. We had a great time.
If you voted for us, share it with us.
In 2010, Give Children A Choice was one recipient of a grant from the Facebook-sponsored Chase Community Giving Program. JP Morgan Chase awarded Give Children A Choice for being one of the top 200 vote getters from Facebook friends. We directed 100% of the funds towards the construction of the Dindam Preschool and to print posters and handouts for our Vitamin Project.
Thank you Facebook supporters for Give Children A Choice. At the time of the voting, we said that we would list your name at the preschool. Please send us your name and city of residence on the blog below. We will print a simple plaque and post it on the preschool wall to commemorate your vote and support for the preschool children.
Dindam Village is the last village on Highway 7 to the east on the Vietnam border, which stretches from Phou Khoun District’s center Sam Nyek and the Vietnam border. From the Dindam village, you need to walk meters to the border crossing at the Nam Can Bridge to Vietnam.
Dindam Village is an agricultural village of a broad range of ethnic groups (Hmong, Khmu and Lao Loum). Their primary crops are rice and corn. Corn is sold to Vietnamese brokers, who export the corn to Vietnam for processing into a range of corn products. Being so remote, the village is self-sustaining, depending on local resources and fellow villagers to fulfill their daily needs.
The Dindam Preschool was completed in the Spring of 2011. School was opened in September 2011. (We just took almost one year before doing our handover.) We told the villagers to please go ahead and open the school doors for the children. (They were hesitant to open school without the handover.)
You will be very proud of the school and in awe of its location. It is set at a top of a steep-inclined hill. The panoramic view from the school is by far the most majestic of all of the 29 preschools we’ve built in Lao PDR. From the school front door, one can see two ranges of mountains (opposite the road below), separated by a valley where the villagers grow their crops. Behind the school is a path that leads to the peak of the hill on which the school was built, then down to another plateau where the villagers grow crops and another chain of mountains behind it.
We had the handover in the classroom. The handover is a way of villagers sharing their appreciation for the preschool. For us, it is a perfect opportunity to have special time with the villagers, eat with them, dance with them, and forge a bond that lasts forever.
The education department, villagers and preschool children attended the handover ceremony. The handover started with the education department and the village leaders sharing their appreciation for the school. They shared that they not only provided labor and aggregate (rocks and sand) for the school, but also donated $500 worth of rice and food for the construction workers and villagers. It was a task. They worked hard to carry the materials up to the construction site and worked tirelessly at the construction site. (So, as all of our preschools, we commemorate the key donors for our school but also the village community for their contribution towards the school.)
Barbara Shimoda (GCAC Country Director) spoke about where the funds came from the Facebook supporters and JP Morgan Chase. She asked the villagers to take care of the school and to make sure each preschool-aged child goes to preschool.
After the handover, we began the vitamin distribution to all preschool aged children from one to five years old. The health department doctors were also present. They, with Barbara and Thongchanh, explained the vitamin program, its importance and benefits to the children. (We knew that it would be helpful because we noticed that a few children showed physical signs of malnutrition, e.g., light, dry hair.)
Vitamins were distributed to each of the preschool children. They were told that when the bottle was empty that they should go to the doctor’s local health clinic to pick up another bottle. There were enough vitamins for one year for each child.
Of course, Barbara sang her “If You Want to Be Happy, Take Your Vitamins”. She also has another class participation song, where they walk in a line following Barbara, getting ready to jump over the moon, stars and sun, but before they take that leap, they take a vitamin. (It reminds me of Romper Room – I just dated myself.)
Lunch and Baci
The villagers were ecstatic with the preschool. They told us they wanted to show their special appreciation for the preschool by dedicating a pig to us and presenting it on a Lao dinner table for us. As part of that demonstration, they gave us a small glass of Lao Lao (Lao whiskey) with a piece of the pig’s liver (that demonstrated their appreciation.)
The group broke up and sat with the villagers at different tables. We managed to communicate in English with at least one person at the table or by calling Thongchanh to translate across the classroom.
We ate. We talked. We drank. We laughed. We danced. We had a great time.
When it was time to go, most of us made it down the hill to the road just fine.
Visiting Nong Hed Tai and Houay Ki Ling Preschools
We stayed over night in Nong Hed District’s center the prior night.
On the way home to Phonsavan, we stopped by to visit our other two preschools in Nong Hed District, both are within one kilometer from each other.