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Nouni started her new life at the Children's Village in Xiengkhouang in 2006 after her parents died.
Her SOS mother Souphin remembers Nouni's first day. She recalls a healthy but slightly bewildered girl, quiet and with sadness in her eyes. “I embraced and welcomed her with [kind] words,” she says. I showed her around her new home, introduced her SOS brothers [and] sisters, and we... had a celebratory meal together.”
At first, Nouni was quiet and shy, and Souphin did her best to bring her out of her shell. They started cooking together, and soon she was chatting and laughing along with the rest of the family. “Nouni was brave, strong, clever,” says Souphin. And she has retained her love of cookery ever since: “She is interested in cooking and after school, she is always nearby me... to help prepar[e] the meal”.
Contests and cooking
Today, Nouni is 15, and is turning into a responsible young lady. At school, she's a reading whiz – recently, she took part in a contest on Lao Literature and came third in the whole province. She enjoys drawing and embroidery, and at the weekend, she likes to head into the kitchen to prepare her favourite meals – from delicious papaya salad to traditional Laotian grilled meat.
When she's not in the kitchen, Nouni spends her weekends helping to coach primary school children who are struggling with her favourite subject, Lao Literature. She wants to continue helping others when she grows up: “I would like to become a doctor and take care of the patients and the poor people.”
Phay lost his parents aged just seven, and joined the Children's Village in Vientiane in 1995. Here, he remembers his arrival in the Village, and the highs – and lows – he has experienced since.
“I remember my first day in the Village. I felt safe to live in this new house... My SOS mother Khamdy welcomed me with [a] warm embrace. She showed me around my new home. I was very surprised that I had my private bed with new blue bed sheet and my private wardrobe!
I learned quickly what my SOS mother taught me... My mother Khamdy was strict on duties but very kind to give advice in soft words to everyone in the family.”
“After dinner or in leisure time, I gave extra classes for my younger siblings who were weak in studies. When I was fourteen, I was mature enough and moved to live in the youth house in order to move one more step to stand on my own feet. I received good education from my youth leader, to be able to manage my daily life, and to have high ambition for my future.
My dream is to pursue higher studies. I now have the opportunity to attend further to vocational college in Vientiane city on IT field for two years.
“Unfortunately I made friends with wrong people. My school performance deteriorated... My mother Khamdy was very sad and worried about this bad news. She sat down with me, educated me on the right and wrong things, their consequences, and persuaded me to focus on my future... I did not give up. I tried to continue at another vocational college on IT for two years and I could finish my training with high diploma. I could finally earn a living from video film production at one private lab photo shop.
I [am] grateful to my beloved mother.”
Find out more about our work in Laos, and discover how you can be there for a child like Phay or Nouni...