Laos parks & museums visit - travel journal

Responsible Travel customers are helping disadvantaged children who attend an outreach and prevention team called Peuan Mit to visit parks and museums in Laos, often for the first time in their lives.

Group by a huge stone statue
Our latest trip in Laos - 26th July 2018:
On this trip 40 children and youth attended the Buddha park and museums. The children were from the Peuan Mit Transitional Home and the youth from the Mechanics Vocational Training program. One child said this about their day: “I entered the huge pumpkin statue and climbed to the very top. The view over the Buddha park was amazing, but it was really high so I was also a bit afraid. Thankfully I was not alone, and got support from PM social worker and my friends”
We have worked with our partner Friends International to devise this trip for children who attend disadvantaged communities in the Laos area. These communities include: Phonthong, Maisaysomboun, Ladkhuay and Chansawang.

The children from these communities study in grade 4 and 5. Peuan Mit outreach and prevention team has worked with these children and their families directly in their communities since 2010 and 2014, to prevent more children from 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. Some of the communities are located around 20-30km from the city and close to the dump site. Some of the families engage in working on the dump site.

Child hiding in a caveNamaste pose with golden statues

What the children do:
The Buffalo Tours bus arrives at the village at around 9:00am to pick up the children and teachers at the school and then start the tour at around 9:20am. During the bus trip our social workers introduced themselves and so did the children and teachers. They also entertained children by organising games, telling stories, asking questions, singing songs and provided information about each site they are going to visit. They are also provided some snacks.

10:20am: The bus arrives at the Buddha Park. The children spend one hour looking around all the huge statues. The children always look excited and happy to see so many different types of statue. After visiting the Buddha Park, the group move to Inpeng Ethnic Cultural Park to enjoy lunch in a nice setting surrounded by trees. At 1pm the group moves on to visit Souphanouvong museum.

1:30pm: The bus arrives at Souphanouvong Museum. The group will receive an introduction from one of the museum’s staff, and spend one hour on a tour, learning about the history of Prince Souphanouvong who was the figurehead President of Laos from December 1975 to August 1991.

2:30pm: The group moves forward to Kaysone Phomvihane museum. The staff at this museum are very welcoming and supportive. They stay there for one hour and discover the history of former president Kaysone Phomvihane who led the fight for Lao revolution.

3:40pm: After visiting the museum, the group heads back to the community and the Peuan Mit social workers continue their activities in the bus with a singing competition and Q&A on life skills. The winner receives hygiene materials, such as a toothbrush, soap or shampoo. The hygiene materials are part of the contribution from other Peuan Mit donors to the mobile school.

This excursion has been very successful. Not everyone has visited these locations before, especially Kaysonphomvihan Museum, an important historical place. The children understand the difficulties our leaders and ancestors had to go through to build a better future for new generations. They also learn and acknowledge the history by experiencing and discovering new places. Being in a different environment to their classrooms has facilitated their understanding.

Guide showing photographs to children
Quotes from the children
"This is my first time to enter a museum, there are so many things to discover inside! Learning about the history of our country was also very interesting and makes me proud of my country."

"I am really happy to have been to the park and take pictures with my friends, we are going to show the pictures to our school".

"I want to thank my teachers and Peuan Mit staff for making me discover so many new places. I hope we can do this more often and discover more other nice places in Laos."

"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 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."

"We made a plan to wear school uniform which felt more polite and smart, and is better clothes for us to visit the museum in."

"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 enjoy traveling with my friends, teachers and Peuan Mit’s staff."

"I am very proud of myself that I can have a chance to visit many interesting places during my school holiday.”

“I like the lunch and games organised in the bus – it was very fun.”

“The Buddha park is a new place for me, I have never been because it’s far from my village and normally I would have to pay the entrance fee which I can’t afford. It was very interesting.”

“I entered the huge pumpkin statue and climbed to the very top. The view over the Buddha park was amazing, but it was really high so I was also a bit afraid. Thankfully I was not alone, and got support from PM social worker and my friends”
Other trips that we have run in Laos:

Group by a huge stone buddha
11th January 2018:
Peuan Mit (Friends International Laos) took a group of 37 children (including 20 girls) aged between 10 and 14 from Phonthong Primary School on an excursion to visit the Buddha Park (Wat Xieng Khuan), Inpeng Ethnic Cultural Park, Souphanouvong Museum and Kaysone Phomvihane Museum. The trip was led by a driver from our tour operator Buffalo Tours, our social workers and school teachers. One child said this about their day: "Today I was so excited to visit many beautiful places! My favourite part was the big dinosaurs at Inpeng Park."
Group by reclining buddha
24th November 2017:
In total, 37 children from the Maisaysomboun community aged 10-14 visited Kaysone Phomvihane museum, Buddha Park (Wat Xieng Khuan) and the Souphanouvong Museum. One of the children said this about their day: "I went into the cave and climbed on to the top, seeing the beautiful Buddha images and view - but I was also scared!"
Children with elephant statue
22nd August 2017:
On this trip, 39 children from Ladkhuay community aged 10-14 visited Kaysone Phomvihane museum, Buddha Park (Wat Xieng Khuan), Inpeng Ethnic Cultural Park and Souphanouvong museum. One of the children said this about their day: "I’m happy to spend time with my friends during school holidays, otherwise we hardly get to see each other."
Happy tour group
28th July 2017:
This trip took 39 children from Chansawang community aged 10-14 to Kaysone Phomvihane museum, the Buddha Park (Wat Xieng Khuan) and Inpeng Ethnic Cultural Park. One of the children said this about their day: "I just found out that the President Kaysone Phomvihane worked in a cave - he was so talented."
Group in front of statue
29th June 2017:
On this occasion, 42 children and young people aged 10-21 from a transitional home in Sisaket village and nearby communities visited Kaysone Phomvihane museum, Buddha Park (Wat Xieng Khuan), Inpeng Ethnic Cultural Park, Thaddluang stupa, and Thadluang Lake Special Economic Zone. One of the children said this about their day: "I like the Kaysone Phomvihane museum because I can learn the history of the former president and how he lived his life."
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.

In front of memorialChildren waving from top of monumentChildren with crocodile statueChildren on the bus
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