Support Lao Students

$2,384 of $2,000 goal

Raised by 36 people in 22 months
Hello! My name is Anne and I am currently on a Fulbright Grant* in Laos, one of the poorest countries in the world. While here, I have met 3 students who have shown me what it means to follow your dreams and give when you have nothing. In one month, they will be forced to move, lose their jobs, and any ability to support themselves and their families financially. Please hear their stories and consider donating towards their future.

For reference: in Laos, 50 cents buys one 8 oz water bottle (you can't drink the water here so you have to buy it). $1-3 buys a full meal. $12 provides transport money for the week. $35 provides family support for the month. $50 provides housing for the month. All proceeds will go directly towards food, housing, family support, school supplies and future scholarships. 

is 22 years old. He was born to a very poor family in a remote village in Northern Laos. His father has trouble walking because one leg is shorter than the other. His mom’s hands always shake. Both of his parents are rice farmers and when crops are bad, his family goes hungry. His older brother died when he was 4 years old and all of his sisters are married into new families, as is normal for Lao culture. None of his sisters finished school because it was too far away from their village. He has one younger brother who is autistic and cannot speak. Therefore, while Seth is not the oldest, he is considered the man of the household and will have to take care of both his parents and brother when he gets older.

Seth has always worked hard in school, dreaming of a better life for him and his family. As school fees got higher, he paid his own way by working odd jobs. He walked barefoot to school every day. When Seth was 15, he sold his cellphone to a poor man in exchange for his plot of land. He worked this plot of land for two years. When he was 17 and graduated high school, his parents asked him to get married and take over the rice farm. But he wanted to continue to learn, so he sold his land in order to get enough money to move to Luang Prabang, the tourist capital of Laos. He was the only student in his entire village to leave home for a better future.

In Luang Prabang, Seth wakes up at 6 am every day, goes to school for 8 hours, finishes his assignments, then works from 7:30 pm until 2 am. He does not have any days off. He works in order to pay for school and send money home for his family. He has not seen his family in 2 years. He sends any extra money to the rest of his village in order to provide school supplies and warm clothing to those who don’t have any. In his small amount of free time, he practices English with me 3x a week, tutors his fellow classmates, and teaches at local primary schools. He is teaching himself Spanish even though there are no English to Spanish textbooks in Laos. His dream is to become a tour guide.

is 23 years old. He is Hmong, an ethnic minority in Laos that is often discriminated against for their affiliation with the U.S. during the Vietnam War. He has an older brother and sister and 4 younger siblings. Neither of his older siblings can afford to send money home. Therefore Som is the oldest caregiver. When Som was 14, his mom committed suicide while his youngest brother was still breastfeeding. From that age onward, Som took care of all of his younger siblings.

When Som was 17, he earned the top grade in his village for mathematics. As a result, the Lao Ministry of Education gave him a scholarship that enabled him to study in Luang Prabang. He moved in with his uncle and, in exchange for housing, became the primary caregiver for his elderly grandparents. His grandfather recently passed away in July, but before then he was not able to eat, walk, bathe, or go to the bathroom. Som assisted him with each one of these tasks every single day.

Som immediately began working in order to send money home to support his family. He worked night shifts in hotels from 10 pm until 6 am, then go straight home to take care of his grandparents, go to school, go back home to take care of his family, and then back to work. He did this for months until he was spent with exhaustion. Recently, he was able to get a better job as a security guard for a restaurant. Now his shift is from 11:30 pm until 2 am, and he is able to get a few hours of sleep before he wakes up at 5 am to begin his daily responsibilities.  

In the next month, Som's family will lose their home. The Lao government is building a railroad through their village, and they will not have enough money to move. If Som does not send money home, they will be homeless.

Khampou is 22 years old. She, like Som and Seth, comes from a poor farming family in Northern Laos.

Women in Laos often drop out of school to take care of their younger siblings and do household chores. They are encouraged to get married and have children rather than seek out schooling or self-betterment. Khampou is no exception. Many times her family asked her to stay home from school in order to take care of her younger brother. However, she ignored their requests in order to keep learning. She believed learning was more important than anything else.

Since she was 11, Khampou has had to pay her own way for school. She would find vegetables in the forest to sell at the market in order to pay for her schooling. The market was so far from home, she would have to wake up at 1:30 am in order to get there on time.

Khampou was so dedicated to school that she earned the top overall score in all subjects in her village. As a result, she earned a scholarship to come to Luang Prabang. She would not have been able to continue studying if she had not earned this scholarship. Because Khampou is a woman, her family usually sends money to support her. However, her family often does not have enough, and she has not received money for 3 months. When this happens, she must go into the forest to scavenge for food, otherwise she will starve.

Many times, Khampou has tried to work to support herself. However, she does not have a motorbike, so traveling to and from town is very difficult. At one job, they asked her to work until the early hours of the morning, but it is unsafe for women in Lao to travel alone at night. At another job, her friend tragically died, and she has not been able to work since due to emotional trauma.

Khampou dreams of becoming an English teacher and helping more students in Laos. She thinks English is the key to help Lao people lead better lives.

Seth, Som, and Khampou go to Luang Prabang Teacher Training College, where they are learning to become English teachers and help the next generation of Lao students. In January, they must move out of Luang Prabang in order to do an "internship" in Northern Laos, to gain hands-on practice with teaching. While the intent of this program is good, the reality of this situation is that they will lose their jobs and be removed from all forms of financial and emotional support. They will have no way to support themselves or their many dependents for 3-4 months. 

These students come from nothing. They have very few resources and nowhere to fall back on when times are difficult. I have never seen students overcome such challenges with such humility and kindness. They work tirelessly at their dreams, hoping for a better future for themselves and their loved ones. Please consider donating in order to sponsor part of their 3-4 month internship and cushion the endless financial burden they have faced their entire lives. 

If you are interested in a long-term sponsorship for Seth, Som, or Khampou please contact me by email. 

*The Fulbright Grant is a scholarship sponsored by the State Department to build bilateral relations abroad. I am an English teacher and cultural ambassador in Laos. The Fulbright Program has no official affiliation with this post or campaign.
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Thank you so much for your generosity. This past month I traveled north, up steep, muddy mountain paths and through wide rivers in order to reach Seth and Som’s remote villages. We handed out toothbrushes, jackets, food, and school tuition for some of the children there. Your money not only supported an individual, it supported a village. I saw that first hand.
Children anxiously await!
Loving her new fuzzies to keep her warm
Kids rocking their new outfits!
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WOWOWOW I have some AMAZING people in my life!! Thank you, thank you, a million times THANK YOU for all of your kind donations! In 24 hours, we have reached 65% of my goal!! If you haven't donated already, please check out these students' stories and consider donating. These 3 real individuals are in real need, and I can't wait to tell them we've reached the full goal.
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Tricia Hornbeck
22 months ago

This campaign is breathtakingly wonderful. Thank you for all the details of their lives. Very inspiring!

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$2,384 of $2,000 goal

Raised by 36 people in 22 months
Created December 12, 2016
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Jillian Entenman
22 months ago

Good luck, Anne and friends!! Sending you love from NYC!

22 months ago
22 months ago
Tricia Hornbeck
22 months ago

This campaign is breathtakingly wonderful. Thank you for all the details of their lives. Very inspiring!

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