Culture

Hardship in Laos: Can you help someone?

10 Aug , 2020  

It’s the time of year when Novice Monks finish school and many leave the temple to become laymen.

School exams have finished and many novices decide to leave the temple around this time. They are often ill-prepared with little to no education about living life as a layman and no financial support. Many of these 18-20 year olds leave with no means to pay for accommodation, clothes, food and ongoing education.

There are 33 temples in central Luang Prabang and boys between 8 and 20 years commit to monkhood for a few months to 12 years. They are usually from impoverished rural farming families and they bring merit to their families as well as get the opportunity to get an better quality education. In temple they are given robes to wear, and they live and eat at temple. Often a child is sent to temple because the family cannot afford to keep him in their village.

COVID-19 has meant most people in Luang Prabang have lost their jobs. Heavily dependent on tourism the lack of income has impacted almost every family in some way.

Some students have been getting sponsorship of USD $100 to pay for their annual school classes which is important for future opportunities. However now there is more urgent need to help people survive with rent, food and other living expenses.

Some recent examples of what people need help with are:

  • Novice monks needing clothing, most have nothing.
  • Youth needing dormatory accommodation (about 4,000,000 kip / USD $440) a year.
  • Small repairs to items allowing people to work and study (minor motorbike, bicycle and laptop repairs).
  • Ability to visit or return home. Some students ride a motorbike 8-12 hours to go home (approx 200,000 kip / USD $22) in petrol.
  • Money for food.

Luang Prabang is a close community and most people and businesses like to work together to support each other. These expenses may not sound like much but some families have no means to get money due to COVID. Parents or siblings who may have had a job (usually paying USD $120 a month) no longer do. Many can see no way forward and fall into a cycle of desperation.

On a side note, the instance of motorcycle thefts and burglaries in the past 60 days has increased as people become desperate for money to survive.

Everyone in the world has been affected by COVID-19 and many have no or part-time work. A little cash goes a long way in Laos so if you are able to help just one person, just a few dollars, there are Lao people here that would be ever so thankful!

New Zealand Bank transfer:  HelpalittleNZ  12-3629-0402457-00
Laos USD
BCEL Bank: 050-12-01-01395251-001
Laos LAK BCEL Bank: 050-12-00-01395251-001
Use Reference COVIDHELP

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