Laos museum, parks & temple visit - travel journal

On Friday 28 July 2017, Peuan Mit (Friendsí program in Laos) took a group of 39 children aged between 10-14 on an excursion to three different locations - Kaysone Phomvihane museum, the Buddha Park (Wat Xieng Khuan), and Inpeng Ethnic Cultural Park. The trip, funded by Responsible Travel, was led by four Friend social workers and two public school teachers, along with a driver from Buffalo Tours and tour guides at the different locations.

The children participating in the trip all came from a community called Chansawang. The families of Chansawang community are some of the 1500 families who were relocated from slums in Vientiane (the Laos capital) in 2000 to a location 15km from the city. Most of the children are Grade 4/5 students, but many havenít spent much time in school, or dropped out. Peuan Mitís Outreach and Prevention teams have been working with these children and their families directly in their communities since 2006, with the aim of preventing young people turning to street work to earn money. During outreach activities, staff educate and advocate against neglect and abuse, spread information about safe behaviour, and link children and their caregivers with opportunities for education and vocational training.


9:20am - after picking up the program staff at Peuan Mitís Drop-In Center, the bus arrived at Chansawang village to collect all the children and their teachers. After getting to know each other, the group organized games, storytelling and singalongs to keep them occupied during the journey! The staff also gave some information about the places they were going to visit, and gave snacks around.

The group arrived at the Buddha park at 9:45. They spent two hours here Ė the children were excited by the huge statues.

StatuesGold statue
11:45am - the group left the Buddha Park and continued on to the next location, Inpeng Ethnic Cultural Park, eating lunch (provided by Peuan Mit) in the bus on the way. They spent an hour wandering in the park. At 1:30, it was time to move on to Kaysone Phomvihane museum.

The bus arrived at Kaysone Phomvihane museum at 2:15. The group split in half to visit the museum in two groups, so that the children could enjoy a guided tour with museum staff. During the one hour tours, the guide explained the history of the former president Kaysone Phomvihane, famous for leading the fighting of the Lao Revolution.

3:15pm - the visits were finished, and the whole group headed back to Chansawang community. Peun Mit social workers continued to entertain the children on the bus! When the bus arrived at 4:00pm, the teachers accompanied the children back home.
Walking towards museum
War memorial
Impact: This excursion was a real success. No one had visited the locations before, and the Kaysone Phomivane museum in particular is a very important historical place. The children were able to get an insight into the struggles of the people who worked hard to built their country. They were able to learn about history through experience, rather than just in the classroom.

One challenge of the trip was that the roads were not always good quality, and the weather was changeable, meaning that the trip took slightly longer than planned and we had to change the destinations we planned to visit.

Quotes from the day
"I have never seen a huge statue before in my life!"

"I climbed up to the cave, it was quite high so I was a bit worried before but the view was so beautiful after I reached the top."

"I am so happy to visit places which I have never been to before."

"I enjoy traveling with my friends, teachers and Peuan Mitís staff."

"I just found out that the President Kaysone Phomvihane worked in a cave - he was so talented."
About our partner organisation: Friends International is an award-winning social enterprise founded in 1994 that saves lives and builds futures of the most marginalized children, youth, families and communities in Southeast 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 services to marginalized urban children, youth and their families. Since its inception, Friends has supported the education, well-being, and sustainable reintegration of more than 300,000 vulnerable children, youth and their families.

children looking at a shrine
Children in namaste
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