Laos parks & museums visit - travel journal

Group next to reclining Buddha statue
On Friday 24th November 2017, Peuan Mit (Friends Laos) took a group of 37 children (25 girls and 12 boys) age 10-14, on an excursion to Kaysone Phomvihane museum, the Buddha Park (Wat Xieng Khuan) and the Souphanouvong Museum. Accompanied by three social workers and five public school teachers from Maisaysomboun Primary school, the trip was led by a driver from Buffalo tours, our social workers and the school teachers and funded by Responsible Travel.

The children who participated in the trip were from the Maisaysomboun community, studying at Level 4 and 5. Peuan Mitís Outreach/Prevention team has been working with these children and their families directly in their communities since 2014, to prevent children resorting to street work. The outreach and prevention activities consist of advocacy against neglect and abuse, information dissemination about safe behaviour, and support in access to education, vocational training, and other services to build their futures, like life skills. This particular community is located 30km from the capital city of Laos, Vientiane, close to a dump site, and there are more than 983 families living there who have migrated from different provinces. Some of the families engage in working on the dump site.

Date: 24th November 2017

9am: After picking up the Peuan Mit staff at the Drop-in Center, the Buffalo Tours bus arrived at the village at 9:00 to pick up the children and teachers from their school. At 9:20, they began travelling to the first location. In the bus on the way, Peuan Mitís social workers, the children, and their teachers all got to know each other. They organized games, storytelling, question-and-answers, songs, and heard information from the social workers about each site they would visit. Snacks were enjoyed by everyone.

10:20am: It took one hour to arrive at the Buddha Park, and the children spent one hour here looking around at all the statues of different sizes. All the children were excited by the huge statues, and how different they all were.

11:30am: After visiting Buddha Park, it was time to move to Inpeng Ethnic Cultural Park to have lunch there and look around for half an hour. At 1pm the group moved to Souphanouvong museum.

On the busQueueing up
1:30pm: The bus arrived at Souphanouvong Museum. First, the group received an introduction from museumís staff, then they spent one hour on the tour, listening to the history of Prince Souphanouvong, who was the President of Laos from December 1975 to August 1991.

2:30pm: When the visit was finished at the Souphanouvong Phomvihane Museum the group moved on to the Kaysone Phomvihane Museum, where the museum staff were very welcoming and supportive. The group stayed there for one hour and listened to the history of former president Kaysone Phomvihane, who led the fight for the Lao revolution.

3:30pm: After finishing their visits, the group headed back to the community, with Peuan Mit social workers continuing their activities in the bus Ė there was a singing competition and Q&A on life skills. The winner received some small hygiene materials as a prize, including a toothbrush, soap and shampoo.

4:40pm: Everyone arrived back at Maisaysomboun village. Before heading back to their families, nominated representatives from among the children, and their teachers, said thank you to the organizers and Peuan Mitís staff for the very successful and informative trip. All the children were happy and enjoyed learning and the new experiences.

Impact: The excursion was very successful, as not everyone had visited these three locations - especially Kaysone Phomvihane Museum, an important historical place. The children were able to learn about history through experience rather than learning in the classroom, which can make facts hard to remember. Staff in all the locations visited were very welcoming to the group. Some obstacles the trip faced were the weather, bad roads in some areas and the long distance.

Child in a small caveHuge statues
Quotes from the day
"I have never seen as many huge statues as at the Buddha park, and I have learned more about history of both former presidents."

"I went into the cave and climbed on to the top, seeing the beautiful Buddha images and view - but I was also scared!"

"I am so happy and proud to be able to learn more about the history, we visited the most beautiful images."

"It was very fun today as I could play some games, sing songs and other activities. I want to attend this kind of activity again."
About our partner organisation: Friends International is an award Ė winning social enterprise founded in 1994 that saves lives and builds futures of the most marginalized children youth, families and communities in South East Asia and around the world. It works to create a future where all children are safe from all forms of abuse, and become functional, productive citizens who contribute to a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable world. Friends works in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and Thailand, and with 45 partners around the world, to provide comprehensive service to marginalized urban children, youth and their family. Since its inception, Friends has supported the education, well-being, and sustainable reintegration of more than 300,000 vulnerable children, youth and their families.

LunchtimeMemorialLooking into a pondChildren with stone crocodile
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