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Laos, Asia

LAO01 - Lao Vida


Partnership Ref.:

LAO01

Commenced:

26/07/2012

Funding Status:

Fully Funded until 30/03/2024

Partnership Type:

Training / Education

Funding Size:

$8,000 - $14,999

Annual Budget:

US$ 9,900

Video:

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Funding Contact:

No funding required

Laos

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Population: 6.5 million

Life Expectancy: 64 years

GDP: US$1203 per capita

Unemployed: 2.5%%

28%% earn less than US$2/day

Current Partnership Impact


5 families are being assisted

5 people employed in partner businesses


Partnership Overview

poor communityLao Vida is a privately owned business whose shareholders are all sent by internationally recognised agencies. It was conceived in 2005 by four Westerners working in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos.

As they worked together, a passion for Southern Laos developed and in 2010 they shifted to Pakse, the central city for all of southern Laos, as a base. Full of rural subsistence communities and animistic tribal groups, southern Laos is known as a spiritually oppressive place. Many Lao people are fearful of even travelling to this region of the country. There are many unreached people groups in the southern regions of Laos and a number of groups have no known believers.

Lao Vida focuses on language, vocational, and development assistance as pathways to reaching people with the good news. They serve both educated urban people and rural young people, both of whom live in bondage to superstition and fear of spirits. This business actively builds relationships through which the good news can be shared. A significant part of the staff training and development is given over to teaching how to pass on the abundant life to village communities. 

Their programmes include:

Language teaching 
The main focus of Lao Vida is English language teaching. Lao Vida operates a professional English language teaching centre in Pakse that teaches over 100 teenagers and adults in the evenings. Scholarships are offered to students who cannot afford to study including neighbours and rural believers. 

Learning new skillsVocational training 
Lao Vida works with young rural women to train them in housekeeping skills such as cleaning, cooking, baking and childcare. They also learn life skills that will help them to thrive in the rapidly changing society. They are taught budgeting, time management, work ethics, coping with change and other things that we take for granted. This is a one year programme. The students study in Lao and a literacy class has been incorporated into the training programme to assist those who need assistance with foundational skills. 

They also train young men and women in baking, bread making and other hospitality skills. The bakery course is a two year course and requires greater competency in the Lao language. They are actively seeking women as well as men for this course but in the rural villages it is difficult to find girls who have studied beyond primary school. Literacy training and extra tuition is available to help bridge educational gaps for the rural poor of both sexes. Most of the students are from believing families so this is a great opportunity to disciple these young believers and send them out to their own people. 

Needs sponsorshipThe last group of bakery apprentices graduated in December 2020 and the housekeeping course will finish mid 2021. These courses will then be placed on hold while the Lao Vida team refocus their energies on new initiatives in response to the changes and challenges brought about by ongoing border restrictions resulting from COVID-19.

In the meantime, the café which was set up onsite in 2014 and further developed and expanded in 2015, continues to sell bakery items to English language students and local people. This is an excellent area for further training of apprentices and employment for past students. Despite the lack of international tourists, there is a regular customer base and the opportunity to sell bakery items to other restaurants and hotels continues despite being at a reduced capacity. 

The young men and women who are undertaking vocational training, or who have joined the staff team, live in community in homes provided by Lao Vida. As they typically come from remote rural communities, when they begin their training they need somewhere to live during this time and also have a lot to learn about life in the city. Living in community ensures all members of the team enjoy a secure and nurturing environment and can provide each other with encouragement and support as they mature.

This is part of a strategy of intentional mentoring and development so that over time these young men and women are well equipped to enter life in the workplace and to become active leaders in their communities and churches.  

Lao Vida wisely seeks to become as self-sustaining as possible. Some support for the vocational training comes from the English language school, however the school does not make sufficient profit to sustain itself and the Lao staff or vocational students who stay on as part of the team. Some aspects of the wider work also require further resourcing. 

History of Partnership

A number of years ago the Executive Chairman of Bright Hope World visited Laos and met the key people in Vientiane.  A one-off project was completed, putting a water tank in a village as part of a development project. 

In 2011 Bright Hope World's Field Director visited Laos and met the same people who had shifted from Vientiane to Pakse. It was very obvious that there was good potential in the business they had established and that many young people were being helped in their education, skills training and capacity to obtain employment and be self-sustaining.  

Beneficiaries

The primary beneficiaries are male and female students and vocational graduates from poor remote rural communities who learn life skills, gain experience in the work force and are mentored while living in a safe and nurturing community.  

What We Like About The Partnership

Bright Hope World particularly appreciates that many young people are being trained to be self-sustaining and given life skills. The course bridges the gap between school and employment. 

There is a good mentoring component embedded in the programme and we think this is a very strong aspect of this partnership. There is also a very strong commitment by the leaders to the holistic development of the people they are training and working with. 

Alongside this, the way they teach and train is done very professionally and at a high standard. The students learn in a top quality environment. 

 

Key People 

Leadership Profile

Making a differenceThe Lao Vida management board is made up of a core of four expatriates. Between them they have over 50 years of experience working in Laos.   

Alison takes responsibility for running the language centre, including managing a full teaching load. Originally from Australia, she has been in Laos since 2003. She has a background in music and education. 

Andrew is the Lao Vida Director. He leads numerous initiatives across the scope of the organisation. He also manages the development of physical property for Lao Vida as new sites and projects are developed. Andrew has a background in youth work and pastoral ministry and has been working in Laos since 2000. 

Karen is the Course Coordinator responsible for overseeing a number of the staff training activities at Lao Vida. This includes the development and translation of teaching materials as well as mentoring the students who have graduated and come on staff. She also teaches in the language school each week.  Her background is in music and education. 

Other People Involved

There are a number of long term Lao staff who undertake numerous roles throughout the business and wider programmes. Some work in the cafe, others teach aspects of the programme, do translation, provide leadership or have responsibility for administrative roles. Other foreign volunteers also come for varying periods of time to teach English, assist with building and development work, and mentor students in their homes, although there are currently only a few expat volunteers due to travel restrictions. This wider team is highly committed to the values and goals of Lao Vida’s work and are essential to the smooth running of the Language School and wider programmes.

 

Vision and Annual Strategy

The vision of Lao Vida is to bring fullness of life to the people of southern Laos. 

Through living in community, classroom and practical training, and daily work experience, Lao Vida seeks to nurture young people in their life and faith, so that they in turn may support and impact their families and communities. 

 

Annual Budget

The amount required to sponsor the training and development of a member of the staff team with full board is US$1,980 per year and Bright Hope World currently supports five staff.