Ethical Cycling - Laos - South to North
A Hospitable Journey
Ethical Cycling in Laos
Ban Faen Village
Ban Faen village is home to our guide Khen Phetxayphone, most of the villagers are farmers who work in the surrounding rice fields, it has no running water or electricity, a generator provides 2 hours electricity a night. When redspokes started to work with Khen in 2001, we talked to the Headman and Elders to determine what support the village needed and where our support would have the greatest effect. After some discussion, it was agreed that the 2 main issues facing the village was access to clean drinking water and the school. We decided to start by helping the school. This decision was not unanimous, as there were mixed opinions about the value of education, particularly for girls. Nonetheless, our first donation went towards concreting the school floor.
In 2003 redspokes and supporters started a charity LVCF. Shortly after we ran our first project building a school in Ban Faen. This school is now complete, (see photo at top of page) we have went on to build a second (basic) school in one of the rural hmong villagas we visit.
The LVCT decided in 2006 to look at issue of clean water and the issue of land mines, a major issue in this poor country.
The Elders highlighted the lack of fresh water supply to the village in our discussions. Currently, fetching water from the nearest river for cooking and drinking is an arduous task, requiring a walk of over one kilometre. The task is made twice as difficult during the rainy season, when the ground is muddy, the river is high, and the water is dirty. Our new project is therefore to fund a project that will bring fresh water into the village. The scale of this project has require significant levels of financial support from supporters of redspokes and the LVCT. We would like to thank everyone who has made this happen, particularly to Conor, Steve and Shane who have been the commitee members of the charity.
Khen has expressed his thanks on behalf of his village to all those who have contributed:
"I on behalf of the people in Ban Faen village, would like to give a thousand thanks to redspokes and to all people who have travelled with you for all the help you have given to our community."
Cluster bombs / Cope
90,000,000 cluster bombs were droped in Laos/Thailand in a nine year period. It has been estamated that 30% of these bombs didn`t explode. Since the war (secrete) finished in 1975.
Contact was made with Cope (the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise) the organisation that provides all of the prosthetic and orthotic devices to all Lao people with a mobility disability. This includes many people who have been disabled as a result of UXO explosions.
"On behalf of the staff here at the rehabilitation centre and all the patients that your donations have helped I would like to say...
Over the past 2 years redspokes and its tour groups have been extremely generous to the project. This year, without support from you we would not be still going. The donation that Andy Hearn sent was at a critical time. The need for help is overwhelming at times but it means so much that a bunch of strangers arrive every few months on your tours and leave as supporters of COPE.
Your passion for the country is tangible and seemingly infectious! So please keep coming to visit! A small amount of money can do so much here. A two thousand dollar donation can provide 40 lower limb prosthetics, 80 club foot treatments or feed a patient in our centre for 1666 days! It is this 'cash' which is hard for us to raise and is why we rely so much on support from people such as yourselves! Many many thanks for your continued support and we look forward to welcoming you here again soon. Our visitor centre should be open in some form by the time you are scheduled to come through. With warmest wishes from Laos/Thailand."
Jo Pereira, COPE
"This holiday was an exceptional experience for me and I think I will find it difficult to find another like it. Laos is a beautiful country - Dermot and Khen's..."