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November 2022

Start of the Post-Covid-19 era?

2022 brought an air of positive change with the gradual retreat of Covid-19 and we sighed with relief to think things would get back to normal. After the latest 5 months of lockdown and closure of the centre, we were finally able to get back to work in February and have been ever since. It wasn't too much of a surprise to find that although we hadn't to worry about Covid so much anymore, a return to our 'normalcy' didn't quite materialise from week to the next. On the contrary; with Covid retreating, we were now faced with the economic effects caused by the pandemic. Reality is that until today, things have not been easy; due to Covid we lost more than half of our students and hardly saw an increase in new applications. Covid had simply brought the tourism sector down in Luang Prabang, and because of it there was no incentive for people to come to E4E, it being a 'pathway' to that world.

Although it was a matter of time for things to get back to normal, in the end it simply came a bit late for us to continue as we had the last 5 years. We operated in a building that had become too large for our needs, and as such it was no longer feasible to keep it up, not seeing recovery where we desperately required it, and another year's rent to pay coming up for space that we hadn't been using for 2 years or so. The only way to be able to continue and recover was to scale down our activities and do what we do on a more modest scale.

As such, in the first time in our 20-odd year existence, E4E had to 'step back' instead of expand. With the 'light at the end of the Covid tunnel' we had, to some extent, become one of many victims of the pandemic, albeit only in the economic sense. The building we had moved into 5 years earlier because of its size, had now turned into the building we were leaving because of the same reason. From a capacity of 12 classrooms we are now back to half that number, a major setback in the overall picture, but as mentioned, a suitable opportunity to be able to continue at all.

Our 'setback' is turning out to be a blessing in disguise; the location of our new centre is somewhat closer to the town-centre, and therefore more accessible for many people, which so far has had a positive effect of new students applying to study with us. In addition, with the re-opening of the country after Covid earlier this year, and the high season for tourists upon us, the outlook for the future is a lot more hopeful than it has been for the last couple of years. Above all, we shall not forget that many people here, and everywhere, suffered much more because of the pandemic and were less lucky to come out of it like we did with E4E.

E4E has slimmed significantly, but we are still here. To a large extent we were able to survive the last couple of years because of our sponsors. Most of our students are poor as it is, the recent years caused further financial burden and the only reason many students were able to continue at all, was and is because of their fees being paid by sponsors. Today almost 80% of our students enjoys some kind of support through sponsoring and we are grateful that it has pulled us through a rather difficult few years.

Thank you sponsors for enabling our students, thank you for enabling E4E!

E4E directions.

Our new centre.