REVIEW 2015 AND OBJECTIVES 2016
LOTUS FOR LAOS
The year 2015 was very exciting and important for „Lotus for Laos“. A lot has happened thanks to a deeper understanding of the topic of development cooperation under the aspect of sustainability and various generous contributions. In the following newsletter, you will read about the most important milestones and changes of the last year, as well as an outlook on the objectives of the coming year. Thank you very much for your interest!
Internship in Thailand and a visit in Laos
In April, board members Lara Twerenbold and Franzisca Gartenmann travelled to Asia at their own expense in order to get a personal picture of the project site. The adventure, however, began in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where the two of them were given an insight into the work of the successful NGO “Child’s Dream”. They spent the first three days in the office and then went on a so-called field trip through Laos with two local employees, Koy and Gee. This gave them a deeper understanding of the country and its culture. They were not welcomed as visitors by the local people, but as guests. In up to eight hour drives they visited the most isolated projects, staying in simple hostels and participating in Buddhist ceremonies to celebrate the Lao new year. There they also met government officials of the respective regions.
After seven days they reached Luang Prabang, where they said goodbye to Koy and Gee. They met Andrew Brown, the project manager, and visited one of the three orphanages, cooked and tinkered with the children and talked to the scholars. It wan’t only a valuable experience, but also the confirmation that the program “Scholarships for a better future” is successful and can be expanded.
The detailed travel report can be found on our website: http://lotusforlaosblog.weebly.com/blog
Lara and Franzisca drew new conclusions from the experiences, they had made on their trip, which they then discussed with the other board members Evelyne Spaargaren and Stephanie Schoss. They defined the concept of sustainability as one of the prime values, which resulted in limiting the organization’s purpose. “Lotus for Laos” exclusively invests in the education of Laotian’s orphans, as this corresponds with the concept of “Empowerment”.
„Scholarships for a better future“
Through generous donations, it was possible to increase the number of scholarships from 18 to 23 before the beginning of university in July. The foundation of the Swiss bank VonTobel and many other private donors have made a tremendous contribution to supporting the five new students and those already enrolled in the program.
From the annual report by Andrew Brown:
„In 2015, we were able to support 145 children through full-time and 73 children through part-time scholarships. Now we have 55 children who will graduate from the orphanage in Luang Prabang and 79 graduates from our school in Suan Luang. For the first time, we will have graduates of the twelfth class of our school in Numbuk. I recently did a survey of some students who were enrolled in the program in 2011 and now have already completed their studies. Of the 15 students contacted, 14 had already obtained a job. Many of them work as teachers in rural areas. This was a very satisfactory result which shows that the scholarship program really gives these young people the opportunity to pursue a profession.”
Our organization found its way into the public through a series of prizes, which we received with great honour. The reactions and feedbacks were positive, supportive and sincere. Of course, the prize money was used for the project and had a considerable impact.
We thank the Hohe Promenade for their support and the award of the “Golden Owl”. The Zonta Women’s Club also chose us for the “Young Women in Public Affairs” – Award, whose media realise was the prerequisite for the majority of the interviews. This got everything started.
Finally, we thank the “Beobachter”, who not only published the first interview, but also nominated us for the “Prix Courage – Next Generation”, which we then won. We sincerely thank all of you!
Since two of the board members are in the last year of high school, the topic of their term paper came closer at the beginning of the year. Both Lara and Franzisca already knew they would write about development cooperation. They had already held the first interviews in Thailand and Laos, which was an incentive for the most exciting discussions. In December, both of them handed in their paper, Lara’s title being “Curse or Blessing of Development Cooperation in Education”, giving a lengthy analysis of the negative consequences aid and charity can have. Franzisca had a different focus and wrote about “Keys to a more effective and efficient social engagement”. Both papers can be downloaded on our website as pdfs. The beauty of the papers were that they resulted in a deeper awareness and knowledge of the issue, which turned out to be very valuable for “Lotus for Laos”.
We will of course work hard to give countless other Laotian orphans the chance of a self-determined life. At the first board meeting this year, we set ourselves the following goal:
To focus our fundraising efforts on “long-term” supporters, so that we can guarantee student that their education will be payed for until their graduation in order to follow our value of sustainability. Also, out organization should grow and new members are to be won. We want to give an even deeper insight into the development of the project by constantly publishing the latest processes on Facebook and our website.
We have set ourselves high targets for the year 2016 and we would be very happy, if we could count on your support in the future!!!