A three-room preschool is being built in Yodt Phair Village, Xieng Khouang Province, Laos. It is located about 80 kilometers from the provincial capital Phonsavan. Thank you Denise and Michael McCarthy for your generosity and continued support. The Yodt Phair villagers are very excited about the new preschool and were anxious to contribute their efforts towards the school construction. The preschoolers will have a beautiful new preschool in February 2015.
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.
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.
The children were all dressed in their finest for our visit shortly after the start of the new school year. The children, their teachers, parents and village leaders are eager to have a new building to support the children’s education.
In mid-November we traveled to Xieng Khouang Province by vehicle and were met there by GCAC volunteers Miho, Tone and Nadine who flew up from Vientiane.
Miho, Tone, Barbara and Nadine arrive for the MOU signing ceremony.
Barbara Shimoda, GCAC Country Director, and Mrs. Xaysamone of the Xieng Khouang Provincial Education and Sports Department sign the Memorandum of Understanding for the new preschool in Yodt Phair Village.
Give Children A Choice started building preschools in Xieng Khouang Province in 2008. The Yodt Phair preschool will be our 12th preschool in the Province. The Give Children a Choice team, Education and Sports Department key personnel and the builder all attended the MOU signing ceremony.
Our builder, Mr. Thongchanh Keomanyvanh, reviews the plans with the head of the Xieng Khouang Education and Sports Department Construcrtion Department.
The next morning the team heads to Yodt Phair Village.
We traveled on the new road that took us less that two hours to travel to Yodt Phair. Our first visit in 2008 took 10 hours. This road, when completed, will be the new highway between Phonsavan to Luang Prabang.
Travel is still treacherous, this bridge, typical for the area, is for cars and small trucks only.
Our friend Mac provides us updates from his home’s backyard, which will face the back of the preschool.
The villages cleared the preschool grounds within a week after we informed them of our plans to build a preschool.