There are 49 major ethnic groups in Lao PDR, a single-party, socialist, land-locked country in South East Asia. The 15 mountain villages which we work with are rural Khmu, from the Mon-Khmer ethnic group, living in Pakseng District, Luang Prabang Province, Northern Lao PDR. They are part of 25% of the population who live below US$1 day. These remote mountain villages are only accessible during dry season which runs from October to June every year. For the remaining part of the year, lack of roads, mudslides and rising rivers make these communities impossible to reach.
Laos itself is listed as one of the least developed countries in the world. Currently there are 47 countries on that list, with Laos being one of the nations who have been listed since 1971.
Regardless of these challenges the Laos are warm hearted and beautiful people and their country is a magical place.
Sitting nestled between the mighty Mekong and the Nam Khan rivers, Luang Prabang is one of the most charming towns in South East Asia. With the temple topped Mount Phousi keeping a watchful eye over town it’s an easy place to visit and an even harder place to leave.
The town of Luang Prabang is UNESCO heritage listed and is filled with Buddhist temples (wats), spectacular buildings and beautiful locals. All of this is against a backdrop of greenery and rugged mountains.
While we are in country, we base ourselves here among the tourists and locals alike, working out of the Luang Prabang library, a low-slung whitewashed building that sits on the main road opposite the Royal Palace. The library is a haven for local children and is run by a dedicated Lao team, with whom we partner.