December 19

Under a misty morning, we left at 8 am to explore five villages and their schools. The majority of the villages seem to have one, two or three school buildings. Often a school in one village will accommodate several neighboring villages. Many humanitarian and government agencies are visible in the region, for instance UNICEF who supports the funding of school latrines, possibly because of the railroad from nearby China.

After identifying some villages with potential for SKL, we went to the district education office to gather more information and check their interest in collaborating, more specifically regarding the maintenance of the land and building after construction which is one of our criteria on the list. We got more details about two villages, one named Chantai, and the other named Ban Na. The district has no plans for maintenance if there is a construction, therefore has no interest in this approach. We visited them in the presence of the students; however, Chantai does not need new classrooms right now as its priority would be a library, which does not fit with us. Ban Na on the other hand, serves primary level (327 students) and secondary level (673 students). They already have buildings in good condition which were built in 2013 and 2015, but also have temporary buildings in poor condition. SKL's assistance might be relevant in this case, as we did in Viengkham. There was a lack of classes needed to accommodate all students. The people of the village would be willing to collaborate in a percentage of 50%. This can be an interesting candidate with a fairly large field to build on.

On our return to the city center of Oudomxay, our colleague/driver guide, Somkhit, informed us that he had built schools. He is a qualified experienced entrepreneur. After choosing our very nice and comfortable hotel, the Xaysana, we were curious to see his work.

He took us to the top of a mountain in the late afternoon, braving very damaged roads for 90 minutes, to discover Lavang, a picturesque village perched in the clouds, inhabited by villagers with a particular dialect. The landscapes are spectacular. Mr. Somkhit built six to seven buildings in 2006, including classrooms, dormitories and dwellings for more than 325 high school students. It was impressive. This village also deserves to have an additional construction to serve the young people residing in the 6 to 12 neighboring villages. It would be an amazing story to tell and film about this village.

Upon our return in the evening, we went to supper at a restaurant that is well-known to foreign visitors, the Kanya. On the menu: rice, chicken soup, chicken laap, vegetables, cucumber and lettuce, and Beer Lao. Everything was very good. After dinner, we headed to the hotel for the night and chatted about our plans and adventures for tomorrow.