Changeover of Volunteers at MiVAC House, Lao
June 25 saw the arrival of Lee and I at MiVAC House in Phonsavan in Xieng Khouang Province, Lao. Following a much appreciated airport pick up by Malcolm and Vicky Cowan (the outgoing Volunteers) we enjoyed an orientation tour of the town of Phonsavan and MiVAC house which was to be our new home for the next three months. Lee and Malcolm quickly got down to business “the handover” whilst Vicky took me to a few local markets and places of interest e.g. Mulberries (a commercial silk worm farm and weaving operation).
As Volunteers in a foreign country you quickly find yourself on a steep learning curve. Language is one of the greatest barriers; but armed with a Lao – English dictionary it’s not unsurmountable. Yang (one of MiVAC’s on the ground local staff) is helpful and assists with interpretation and translation.
With four weeks on the ground Lee and I are feeling more comfortable with the job at hand; the Lao and Hmong people and their culture. We have both been very busy. Lee has been focussing on administration and progressing the signing off of the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) for MiVAC’s next project and I have been working very closely with our sewing girls on product and market development.
Recent site visits to villages where MiVAC projects have delivered water and toilets to remote communities have highlighted the importance of MiVAC’s work. The work is much appreciated by the villagers and is certainly improving their quality of life. It really makes what we are doing worthwhile.
It’s not all work though, we do have some time to play. Weekends provides us the opportunity to do a little sightseeing in this picturesque part of the world. The Plain of Jars is certainly a ‘must see’ for any visitor to this region. A recent bus trip to Vientiane was a great way to see first-hand the beautiful countryside with its rugged mountains and lush valleys interlaced with rice paddies. I have heard Luang Prabang is also worth a visit so we look forward to getting there before we return home late September.