In honor of these people, I am organizing this summer project to give back to my community all the skills and knowledge I’ve learned. Before showing you what my plans are for this project, I would like to give you a glimpse of the significance of this project in my life. Below is a talk I gave at TEDxYouth@Bonn about what helping other underprivileged children means to me.
While in the Netherlands my friends and I started a project called Dreams Givers to give underprivileged children in Laos the chance to go to school. Below are two videos explaining what we've done in the past two years. To find out more about us to go my website: www.dreamsgivers.org
Dream Givers Summer of 2016
Dreams Givers Summer of 2017
Over the past two years, we sent 24 children to school with all the equipment they needed (i.e. uniforms, backpacks, notebooks, etc).
After graduating from an international boarding-school in the Netherlands (UWCMaastricht), I came back to Laos with a mission to create a bigger impact. Instead of just sending kids to public schools, I wanted to teach them English and help them develop critical thinking and other useful life skills. So, I rented a room in Luang Prabang (town) to host 8 children over the summer and started giving English lessons for free.
I started teaching them for free.
Most kids’ families lived in the countryside, far from the city, and would not otherwise be able to afford for transportation and educational services. During the day, over 30 students additional students (most of them female) joined our lessons. Below is a video of the children's lives in Luang Prabang as they learned English and lived together over the summer.
A day into the life of Dreams Givers' students.
As I was teaching, I realized that most of the kids were going through puberty and beginning to have sexual relationships. In my culture, parents never talk about sex with their children because it is considered taboo.
As I started reflecting, a number of things clicked in my mind. Many of my friends got married at the age of 15 because they got pregnant. Much of this was due to misconceptions and a general lack of sexual education. Given that I was providing room and board for these kids, I also began to feel a new sense of responsibility for their health. Inspired, I set myself a new goal and decided to teach a class on STIs and pregnancy.
“Do you know a lot about periods?” A 15-year-old girl asked me half way through my lesson. “Can we ask you questions about it?” I eagerly said “yes”, because I was really happy to know that the girls were opening up to talk about their menstruation, despite also being a taboo. After a few questions, I realized there was a lot more I needed to learn about periods. There were so many questions I couldn’t answer. I was blown away by how desperately these girls wanted answers about their own bodies. Their list of questions seemed to grow longer and longer. They had no idea what their menstruation really was.
Most of the students in the class, boys and girls, did not know anything about STIs either. Luckily, my adoptive mom, a nurse from Australia, was there to visit; so I asked her to help answer the questions.
I realized I was learning as much from my students as they were learning from me. There are so many girls in Laos who are still looking for answers to questions regarding many other taboo topics, but because they are so taboo, they have learned not to ask about such topics beyond their immediate circle of close female friends. However, their friends are just as confused and the self-perpetuating cycle of misinformation continues. One of my mission, therefore, is to education as many girls as I can, so that they can inform other girls and empower each other.
My plan for the summer of 2018:
· I will rent a house in Luang Prabang (town) for the summer so that underprivileged children in the countryside can come live with me. I plan to have around 15 kids living together (sleeping arrangements will be separated based on gender).
· I will teach English to the children living with me and others who commute to class (2 hours per day, 5 days a week).
· Besides English, I will have an additional class for us to talk about their rights as individuals and the importance of education in their life. This class will also serve as an opportunity to share their own experiences with gender inequality within a safe space (2 hours per day, 5 days a week).
· I will bring volunteers from all different fields of life to share their work and what they do with the kids so that the kids have a better sense of what they want to do in the future. (In this class, we’ll also talk about goal setting and how to move towards the goals.)
· I will have volunteer nurses and doctors join the class and teach the kids about hygiene and sexual health (i.e. pregnancy, contraceptives, STIs).
· By bringing the kids from different families and backgrounds to live together, I hope to teach them the importance of teamwork as an approach to problems that might emerge due to the differences that we have as human beings. I hope to teach them the value of approaching life with an open mind and equip them with a basic awareness of the greater world.
Most of these children are from families of single mom or drug addicted dad, so I will be using the donation from this campaign to provide the estimated following for two months. At the end of the summer, the materials will be kept at my brother's house for the next project. Besides this campaign, I also look for other resources of donations. Below is an expected budget:
Rent (house with 3 rooms) $700/month $2,100
Electricity bill $200
Water bill $200
Mats for sleeping on $25/unit $425
Classroom materials: $1,340
10 big tables $50/unit $500
30 chairs $10/unit $300
notebooks $5/unit $100
pens for notebooks $10/10 units $20
2 white boards $25/unit $50
pens for the white boards $10/10 units $20
supplementary materials (HDMI - $50
adapter, sheet for projecting image onto)
2 rice cooker $50/unit $100
pot $50/unit $50
2 frying pans $50/unit $100
20 plates $25/10 units $50
20 forks $15/10 units $30
20 spoons $15/10 units $30
refrigerator (for 17 people) $500
4 fans $90/unit $360
soap $10/10 units $20
shampoo $10/10 units $20
conditioner $10/10 units $10
toothbrushes $10/10 units $20
toothpaste $10/10 units $20
plastic tub (for washing clothes in)$15/unit $15
knives $10/unit $50
2 cutting boards $10/unit $20
toilet paper $20
soap for washing dishes $20
sponges & towel for cleaning dishes $30
towels $10/unit $170
food containers $100
mentruation pads $5/person- $120
/month ($5 * 3 months * 8 kids)
menstrual cups $16/2 units $64
homone pills $10/1 female student/3 months $450 for 15 students
2 bags of 50 kilos of rice $100/month
weekly vegetables for three months $250/month $750
cooking oil, condiments, etc. $13.3/month $40
Set aside for emergeny e.g: hospital fees $2000
If YOU too feel as strongly as I do about helping these kids reach their potential and if YOU too believe that they deserve to have an opportunity to work towards a better future, then I ask you to help me make this project a reality. Every single dollar makes a difference.
- khou cha
- Pheng Vang
- Simon M
- Derek Lee
- Pajai Her
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