Update On MiVAC's Humanitarian Project In Lao PDR


I recently visited our project in Laos and am back there again on 3 Nov 2012. This report is to inform you about a really worthwhile project to assist some of the Lao People who were nearly bombed out of existence (and whose country is now littered with millions of dangerous bombs) during the Secret War 1963 – 73.

MiVAC is Mine Victims and Clearance Trust and remember  95% of funds raised goes to the projects – we are all volunteers.  I am Patron of MiVAC so by way of background please look at my previous reports:
The Humanitarian Project 
The village of Ban Xai, Xiengkhouang Province (30 kilometres West of Phonsavan where you can fly to from Vientiane) is being assisted by MiVAC volunteers and the funds raised (and to be raised). The Project will include:
1. Water supply plus water filters for potable water
2. Sanitation education plus toilets 
3. Bio-digesters (which provides the ability to create methane gas for cooking, heating and lighting from animal faeces). Wood fires are currently used 
4. Health Clinic and health education
5. Agricultural including market gardens, aquaculture, and animals 
6. Small business training 
7. Believe me – the list goes on. 
There are 123 families in the village of 700 and 106 families are Hmong (Hill Tribe people who mainly practise Swidden Cultivation which is “slash and burn” and planting hill rice). These Hmong earn less than 50 cents per day and are below the poverty level.
Beginning With The Facilities Building
We have started by building a facilities building (22.5 metres x 6 metres) on 1.4 Hectares of ground allocated by the village to perform the following functions:

1.       We have built this building to:
    (a)   Accommodate those volunteers coming from Australia to assist
    (b)   Provide a medical clinic – we want to train a villager for this job
    (c)    Kitchen
    (d)    Office
    (e)    Training Rooms.

2.       On the area we will have animals – cows, pigs and chickens. All penned at night.

3.       We will use the animal waste for bio-digesters and a fish pond.

4.       The processed dung in the bio-digester will fertilize the ground for growing cassava and vegetable garden.

5.       The biodigester produces methane gas for

    (a)   Cooking
    (b)   Lighting
    (c)   Heating

6.       We intend to teach the villagers the business of bio-digesters and its by-products and to have this as a good example for other villages in Xieng Khouang
Decorum in Lao PDR
MiVAC has installed a 32 year old Lao Project Manager called Yang to whom MiVAC was proud to give a MiVAC T-shirts to wear. In the next few days I noticed he always wore a coat with the T-Shirt whereas I just wore a MiVAC  T-Shirt.
Picture Above. Yang is on the right (before I gave him the T-Shirt) with the Village chiefs at Hinmou Pueng - part of Ban Xai - they are at the centre of another 1 Hectare area set aside for MiVAC.


I told Yang that MiVAC had some Polo Shirts coming as well. Yang had gained enough confidence to tell me that for a Lao man to just wear a T-Shirt was considered impolite and no-one (in business) would talk to him but wearing a Polo shirt was a different matter and he would not need to wear a coat.
In Yang’s words “It is OK for a foreigner to wear a T-shirt but not for a good class Lao”.
Picture Above. 4 Hmong kids with their big brother just coming home from school.

I Have a 70 Second Video For You
How does an 11 year old girl carry 20 litres (20 kilos) of water on her back without any assistance? Have a look at this You Tube Video
We have been negotiating with a major donor called The Charitable Foundation for about a year now and a couple of months ago they were generous enough to donate $83K. An absolutely great start! Do we need more – the answer is yes and you can assist by sending on this email, by joining MiVAC and/or donating funds with a secure transaction by credit card or bank transfer  at www.mivactrust.org. Whilst you are on the website have a good look around!
So, I hope you enjoy reading about how I spent time in Vietnam and in Laos. Jimmy and I plan to do the Vietnam Author’s Tunnel Rat Tour again on the 26 Oct 2012 (you can read about my Vietnam report here) and then I plan to go on to Laos on 3 Nov 2012 for about a week (you can come with me if you like) – just let me know.
All the best


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