Children in Laos
Two thirds of the Lao population live in the countryside. Although infrastructure desperately needs improvement across the country, it is in rural parts where it is especially underdeveloped. While in urban areas, 83% of the population has access to safe drinking water, this figure stands at just over half in the countryside. And in the city, 88% have access to improved sanitation – in the country, less than half do.
Many children in Laos face hardships.
- As well as high infant malnutrition and widespread child labour, expenditure on education is one of the smallest in the world.
- Consequently, literacy rates are low, and despite efforts from the government to improve school enrolment rates, rural schools are poorly equipped and fewer children attend. Less than three quarters of the population can read and write.
- Children growing up in the countryside also lack basic healthcare, and a badly developed road and rail network means links to the city are at times non-existent.
Our Children's Villages in Laos
SOS Children’s Villages has worked in Laos since 1995. Because of slow economic development and the lack of adequate welfare provision, we have increased our involvement in recent years. We target support to the unique needs of specific areas, providing temporary care for malnourished children in Savannakhet, and offering vaccinations to people in the local community in Samneua.
We opened our first Children's Village in a rural area on the outskirts of the capital, Vientiane, near several primary schools. Much of our work in Vientiane focuses on filling the gaps left by Laos's inadequate welfare system. Schooling from nursery to secondary level ensure children are equipped to succeed in a competitive job market, while daycare for small children allows mothers to work. We also offer training to parents so they can improve their own job prospects or become better parents.
A second Village in Pakse opened a few years later in1998. The SOS Nursery school allows parents the freedom to work for their children, and provides an invaluable introduction to education and play. An SOS school enables children to continue learning with us up to secondary level, providing a full education to children who would otherwise miss out on school altogether.
Our Village in Xiengkhouang is located in the north-east of Laos in Ban Nam Ngam, in the commercial centre of Phonsavan. One of our main focuses in Xiengkhouangis treatment for malnutrition. Undernourished children come into our care for ongoing therapy, and are offered a nutritious diet along with vitamin supplements and vaccinations to help them reach a healthy weight. When they return home, we keep in touch to ensure that they continue to thrive. As in our other Villages, we provide full schooling for many children for whom an education would otherwise be unattainable.
We opened a fourth Village in Luang Prabang, in 2001. The Village lies on the outskirts of the ancient capital of the former Laotian kingdom of Lan Xang - indeed, Luang Prabang was the capital of Laos until 1975. Our Village was built on land donated by the government, at a loss as to how to deal with ongoing deprivation. The site includes a paddy field and a pond, where local people can come to fish and harvest rice. Daycare and the freedom to work is yet again a vital service offered in Luang Prabang.
A fifth SOS Children's Village was opened in Samneua in north-east Laos in April 2004. Located in another deprived province in which nearly half of all people are poor, our work here focuses on providing daycare and education for families who would otherwise lack these basic services.
Our sixth Village opened in Savannakhet in the south of the country in March 2008. Savannakhet is the second biggest city in Laos, and both province and city are developing to capitalise on trading opportunities arising from the city's close proximity to neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam. As across Laos, we are working here to provide essential services to families who need our help to give their children hope of a prosperous future.
SOS Children Laos
POB 3503, Ban Sivilay
Kaysone Phomvihane Rd
Tel: +856/21/710 544