Some 230 children attend the school in Donkoi,
Laos, a rural village of 2,500 outside the capital of Vientiane. The
first- through fifth-graders—immaculate in their white and blue
uniforms—sit quietly at shared desks in classrooms with “windows” that
are just cutouts in the cement walls. They’re studying the
basics—reading and arithmetic.
and flexibility both are necessary as girls learn the intricate
movements of traditional Lao dance during the after-school program in
Donkoi, a rural village outside the capital of Vientiane. The program
takes place in a center built with funds from Church World Service and
much community cooperation.|
the school day doesn’t end with this. Planting trees, weaving, dancing,
repairing chairs and tables, writing stories, even building a
flush-toilet are part of an after-school program where youth learn to
dream. And they learn that by working together they can achieve those
“Everything begins with a dream,” said Xuyen Dangers, a
social worker with Church World Service in Laos who introduced these
activities here in 1998 and, later, at three other schools.
government requires schools to offer after-school programs, she said,
but doesn’t provide funding. When the Donkoi village president asked
Dangers if she could help, she stepped up with her own dream and CWS
resources, which included a $30,000 grant from the ELCA Ministry Among
People in Poverty funds.
Tending the school grounds and building
in this rice-farming community where municipal funds are scarce was the
original goal of the after-school hour. But a tidy courtyard was just
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