When she sees the school, now halfway done, Lanoy says, “This is my dream: this is the dream for all community members here.”
In Xongja village, several hours north of the nearest city and settled atop a mountain, the previous structure serving as a school to the community completely collapsed due to age, weather, and poor construction.
As a result, all lower-grade students were left without a place to learn. The students were scrambling for a classroom and were forced to convene and learn in three small rooms, housing up to 350 students.
But now, with a lot of help from Lanoy, PoP’s fierce Lao Country Coordinator, the situation is changing.
For Lanoy, Xongja village has been a passion project. It is the most populated village PoP engaged to date. When we arrived there for the first time, the elders hosted us with warm tea and told stories. Education was important for them, they said: so important, in fact, that they pooled their money to send one community member to the city for teacher training.
After some negotiations, fund raising, and a huge community contribution, the Xongja community broke ground on their new four-room primary school this May. Every available community member is participating in the build — everything from laying bricks to painting walls and cooking meals for the laborers.
And, next Fall, this school will open it’s doors to over 150 students, with many more expected to enroll throughout the course of the year.
For Lanoy, this is truly amazing. And, as she says it, this is the coolest thing about PoP: turning mountains into schools.