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February 2022

Covid-19 and its wake

After 2 years of living with Covid-19, we are now at a point where there appears to be a return to some kind of 'normality', at least that tends to be the desire among most of us. Looking at the statistics it seems odd, as the number of infections of Covid has risen very dramatically since new variants evolved, and the number of daily cases in Laos has only increased during lockdowns and since easing of restrictions recently. However, we appear to follow other countries in this approach and as such we at E4E were also free to open the doors again to our students as per this month after a lockdown of 5 months in which very little happened and most of us were confined to our homes, only able to leave our village with special permission of the village-chief.

Although it is good to return to teaching English again, we now see that things aren't quite as they were before and that Covid-19 and its effects are very much still with us today and causing a 'headache' or two, not so much due to health reasons but the economic consequences of 2 years of Covid-19 pandemic. The signs appeared in the early days of the pandemic - a decrease in students attending classes, initially due to the worry of being infected but later on due to economic reasons, a tourism industry that was shut down and as such was unable to provide income for many or even employment for those who come to learn English at E4E in order to find just that. The goal is to return to as it was before the pandemic, but that is not today. High season in Luang Prabang is from October until March and for the 2nd year running there simply was no such thing as a high season, and instead all you could see was deserted streets and businesses shut down and for sale. With the easing of regulations tourists are cautiously welcomed back to visit, but with people still wary and strictly imposed travelling regulations do not really see the tourists return in large numbers. It's a similar scenario at E4E - we are 'back in business' but not everybody and everything is ready for it. The pandemic has handed us a couple of punches other than the virus itself and we are struggling to recover. Pre-pandemic E4E saw large numbers of students attending classes; 2 years since the outbreak we are down to 25% of those numbers, lost valuable staff, but are still faced with the costs of running the centre, costs we could manage previously, but not under today's circumstances.

We are not surprised, and not alone, but it is difficult nonetheless to finally being able to return to our daily routines only to realise we are not out of the woods just yet as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. For the sake of E4E and its students, current and future, we will face these challenges and attempt to overcome them, and continue what we've done for more than 15 years now - providing opportunities for young, poor but eager people who wish to improve their lives through education.

E4E post Covid.

New class at E4E.