Samneua, Laos—Laos, officially the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, is a small landlocked nation in Southeast Asia with a population of almost 7 million. Considered one of the poorest countries in the world, 80% of the population depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and at least 30% of the population live in poverty.
Most of the 2.8 million children living in Laos face many hardships with low literacy rates and high rates of malnutrition and child labor. Children in rural areas are particularly disadvantaged. Basic services such as education, health care or other forms of assistance cannot reach those living in remote areas with no access to road or railway networks.
Bang, 7, lives with his mother, father and brother in rural Samneua, Laos and is a scholarship recipient at an SOS Hermann Gmeiner School. SOS provides education and job training to 297,000 people worldwide and Bang attends one of SOS' 184 schools. We recently met up with Bang to ask him a few questions about his favorite things, his family and school.
What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
I love drawing, helping my teacher and family and playing ‘Maklae’, a traditional game played with a large tree seed.
What is your favorite subject in school?
I like to learn the Lao language.
Bang with his teacher at the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School in Samneua, Laos.
Who do you live with?
I live with my parents.
What does it look like where you live?
My house is in the countryside surrounded with trees and forest. I walk to school every day.
Bang with his family at their home in the countryside.
What is the best thing about your country?
My hometown has a nice environment with mountains and beautiful waterfalls.
What do you help with in your home?
I like to help my brother and family to sweep the floors and wash dishes.
Who is your best friend, how did you meet and what do you do together?
Mua is my best friend. I met him at school—we study in the same class. We like to spot and identify birds in the forest together.
Bang enjoys playing with his friends during a break from school.
What do you want to be, when you grow up?
I want to be a police officer when I grow up.
What is your biggest dream?
My biggest dream is to make my father and mother happy and proud of me.
*Name changed to protect the privacy of the child.
SOS Children's Villages started working near the capital city of Vientiane in 1993. In the following decades, and due to the continuing hardships faced by the people of Laos, SOS has expanded and adapted our work. SOS Children's Villages now supports children and families in six locations throughout the country, which includes SOS Villages, youth facilities, kindergartens, schools, vocational training centers, social centers and a medical center.