Many communities in Laos are still living in remote and isolated areas, with only the most rudimentary infrastructure. While education is a key factor in poverty reduction and sustainable development, in a country like Laos, the obstacles for effective basic education are often insufficient classrooms, lack of textbooks, supplies, teaching material and also libraries.
On March 15, 2014 RYTHM Foundation signed an agreement with Child’s Dream Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to empowering children, youth and communities in the Mekong Sub-Region. Through this partnership, RYTHM Foundation’s aim was to support and fund the construction and renovation of a second building at Na Luam Secondary School, located in the Xaiyabouli Province in Northern Laos. It is the main secondary school in the district, and is highly sought-after by parents of local children who have completed their primary level of education.
The construction was completed successfully and on November 6, 2014, RYTHM Foundation Trustee Zaheer Merchant, accompanied by the Head of RYTHM Foundation, Sujitra Jayaseelan, attended the official opening of the new building, which houses five fully furnished classrooms. The new block, equipped with additional toilets, is expected to accommodate approximately 200 students between the ages of 12 to 18 years.
Arriving at Na Luam Secondary School early in the day, our RYTHM Foundation representatives were received by rows of enthusiastic students, who were waiting with flower garlands and heartwarming smiles. The children also had other surprises in store – they treated their guests to a series of traditional dances, while decked out in colourful cultural gear. Also present for the launch, were government officials from the district – the Provincial Governor and Provincial Secretary of Education – and the Co-Founder of Child’s Dream Foundation, Daniel Siegfried. All of them addressed the event, expressing their happiness and gratitude to RYTHM Foundation for our contribution and support.
Following an exchange of gifts between the Foundation and the School, our representatives were invited to be part of a special Buddhist ‘Thanksgiving’ ceremony held at the new building. The ceremony was organised by the villagers, and was a customary gesture of showering well-wishes upon those who have touched their lives. Our representatives felt truly honoured as each and every member of the community came forward to tie a ‘ blessed’ thread around their wrists; it was a symbol of appreciation and also a wish for good luck, good health and prosperity.
To celebrate the new hope and new beginnings, this building would bring, the government prepared a huge feast for the entire village – the day was declared a provincial holiday and everyone came forward to participate in the grand celebrations. It was food, dance and laughter all day long – our RYTHM Foundation representatives also joined in the folk dances, truly losing themselves in the culture and simplicity of their surroundings.
“I feel this is the best thing we have ever done as a Foundation. When you are part of an enriching experience like this, you cannot walk away feeling anything but humbled,” said RYTHM Foundation Trustee Zaheer Merchant, when asked about his trip. “We look forward to furthering our partnership with Child’s Dream through other initiatives in the future.”
Through its continuous work in the community, Child’s Dream Foundation has already built 86 schools, providing an improved learning environment and opportunity for more students in under-developed countries to have secondary education.
RYTHM Foundation is proud to have worked alongside Child’s Dream on this initiative, as the organisation believes strongly in getting the involvement of community leaders and the school management in all their projects in order to ensure their success. The community participated very actively in the construction of the new building for the Na Luam Secondary School. Clearly, education is very important to the villagers, as they worked very hard to create a safe and conducive environment for the children.
“We believe education is not only important for reducing poverty, but also the key to wealth creation. Therefore our investment in the education for the children of Laos will contribute to its nation building in the long run,” said Executive Director of RYTHM Foundation Datin Sri Umayal Eswaran.