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February 2012

December festivities

A large number of students at MEC are orphans who live at the Luang Prabang orphanage. Naturally these students have to abide by the rules that are imposed on them by the orphanage management. In December this meant that our orphanage-students were part of a major event that was staged in Luang Prabang, namely 'The Games'. 'The Games' is a Lao national sports-event in which the Lao provinces are represented by a large number of athletes, competing in a variety of sports. The orphans' role in these games, for the occasion dubbed 'The Luang Prabang Games', was being part of the opening and closing ceremonies of the spectacle, which were spectacles in themselves. It seems 'The Games' were quite a success this year! (save an incident in the football final when, apparently, the hosting team assaulted the referee in their passion, probably not because they were winning. The orphans of course had no part in this).

2012 - back to normal

All December excitement is now 'water under the bridge' and since, we have embraced the new year and are, one month into 2012, pretty much 'back to normal'. Most New Years appear to have been celebrated, although we're still witnessing some remnants of activities as celebrated by the Hmong, one of the main ethnic minorities in Laos who, in our perspective, like to 'stretch' festivities as much as possibly can. All other festivities (other than the usual Lao do's) appear to have come to an end; the Chinese have cracked their fireworks and also the incidental Vietnamese student has returned from her/his country about a week ago where they'd gone for identical reasons. Although the first week of January was somewhat 'slow', things were again in 'full swing' as January evolved. Everybody seems to be 'back in place' and will, in general, stay there until, at least, the beginning of April, as that announces the next major celebration: Lao New Year!


For a handful of years now, MEC has been blessed with the generosity of people who sponsor students at MEC. An average 50 students have been sponsored through the Dutch foundation E.L.K. (English for Lao Kids) and more and more people are finding MEC directly and choose to help one of the many students at MEC who require support. There will also be a 'call' for sponsors. Laos still remains one of the poorest countries around and our students 'tell that story'. With students sponsored at MEC, other youngsters find their way to MEC, hoping that studying English is also possible for them. We encourage students to apply for sponsorship and then select those who meet a few basic requirements, i.e. being diligent, being there to attend classes and, of course, being poor. We have a 'box full' of such students. For 8 sponsored Euros a student can study English for 1 month!


MEC has a initiated a great 'Volunteer programme': locally we advertise the possibility for visiting tourists to come to MEC and attend classes for the amount of time that is convenient to them. Usually, foreigners stay in Luang Prabang only for a few days and have only a few hours at MEC. They can do this without any burocratic hassle or commitment. Also there is no charge for attending the classes. For the visitor it is just a great experience and an opportunity to do something 'different'. MEC benefits from the presence of these volunteers as it allows for interaction between the student and a foreigner, something from which, above all, the student can benefit. In most cases, the volunteers leave MEC quite impressed and choose to sponsor one of the students in need of sponsoring. This is a great situation for all involved!


Opening Ceremony at The Luang Prabang Games.