In what is still a relatively under-developed country, the town of Samneua lies within one of the most deprived regions of Laos, where an estimated 43% of the population are considered poor or extremely poor.
The Houa Phanh province borders Vietnam in the north eastern reaches of the country. and some 435 miles separates Samneua from the capital Vientiane. Encircled by mountains and dense forest, the town is somewhat remote and does not benefit from as much tourism as other parts of Laos.
For decades there has been insufficient investment in infrastructure which has left the town with inadequate provision of clean drinking water and levels of sanitation that are woeful at times.
The primary occupation in the town is farming, but this in itself has caused some problems. The popularity of slash and burn techniques can cause soil quality to fall, and while livestock are kept in numbers here, veterinary services are lacking. This means milk and meat yields are lower than they should be and loss of animals is common.
High child mortality persists
Because of the province’s proximity to Vietnam, there is a mix of cultures and ethnicities in Samneua. However, it is often ethnic minorities which experience the most severe poverty, with child mortality rates among these communities remaining stubbornly high.
What is SOS Children doing?
Arriving in 2004, the Children’s Village in Samneua was our fifth location in Laos - and one of the most urgently required.
Poverty in the surrounding area means that many parents struggle to properly feed their children, while education is beyond the means of the vast majority.
We provide both a nursery and school education for the local children and those from the Village. Starting from the very basics, each child is benefits from quality education in a fully equipped learning environment.
Due to high levels of malnutrition in the town, we opened a social centre. Here, we take in malnourished children and nurture them back to health on our residential programme. They receive a nutritious diet along with any vitamin supplements they might need, and once they are back to a healthy weight they are reunited with their families. Ongoing support is provided to ensure they remain healthy.
The SOS medical centre in Samneua provides essential healthcare to the local community. To address disease in the town, the centre administers vaccination programmes while also addressing needs such as family planning and other health issues.
While the region still faces many challenges, we support numerous people in Samneua, helping them to overcome serious and long-term hardship.