Na Nan is located in Phou Khoun District, about 5½ hours but only 75 miles south of Luang Prabang. Phou Khoun District is located just north of Vientiane Province and west of Xieng Khouang Province.
Hmong migrated north to Na Nan village from Vientiane Province to the south over the past two decades. Originally, they wanted to settle where there was more space, fewer people and more opportunities. The original settlers worked for a woman who owned herds of buffalo and cattle. They were happy. The word spread and more and more family members, relatives and friends joined the original settlers. Many of the families have Yang as their last name.
There are 90 Hmong families and close to 700 people in Na Nan Village. Their culture is rich and they work hard to keep their traditions strong. Their main occupations are growing rice in the upland and they additionally raise animals such as cows, buffalos, pigs and poultry.
The villagers noted that their key source of income is from selling fruits and vegetables at the local market. An additional source of income is by tending a herd of 550 buffalo and cattle. Today, they own 90% of the growing herd of 700 buffalo and cows. The original woman owner holds the remaining 10%. She enabled the Na Nan village families to become more self sustaining.
Na Nan has no running water. Their source of water for drinking or washing is collected runoffs from the roofs of their homes. During the dry season, the children walk long distances to bring water to their homes. Often, they walk during the school hours to get water. An NGO has committed to provide running water to the village.
We met with the village chief Mr. Nousoua Yang, the school principal Mr. Phavang and the district eduction planning represetative Mr. Fong Yang. We learned Mr. Fong has a college degree and is fluent in English. He is exceptional. His parents had foresight and encouraged his brothers and sisters to go to college. No other families have gone to college. He told us that the Na Nan village parents believe that education is important for their Hmong children.
Preschool education is particularly important, because today, Hmong children do not learn Pasa Lao (the national language) until they are in primary school at age 6. Preschool will prepare them for primary school by teaching them Pasa Lao in addition to the other benefits of beginning their education experience earlier. There are over 70 preschool age children in Na Nan Village.
Na Nan’s two room preschool was made possible through the generous support of Timeless Image Enterprises and their clients.
Check out our visit to Nanan to give the Gift of Reading here.