Volunteer in Laos
Leave More Than Just Footprints
Volunteer in Laos at Daauw Home,
Kajsiab Project, Hauy Xai, North Laos
Early in the year of 2004 Nzoua Vue’s family was beset by tragedy. His beloved sister, Kajsiab, died a preventable death due a minor infection and inadequate health care. She was thirteen years old.
Sadly, this grievous loss is not an unusual story in many parts of Laos today. Indeed, rather than being a stand-alone case, the loss of Kajsiab to a curable case of appendicitis is instead an indication of the myriad problems that continue to afflict many rural villages of Laos in the 21st century: food shortages, no access to clean drinking water or sanitation, limited or no access to healthcare and no reliable source of income.
It was with the intimate knowledge of these problems and the memory of his beloved sister that Nzoua and his Dutch wife, Lara Picavet, formed the non-profit socially minded company, Kajsiab.
Kajsiab means: a flower that blooms, a heart that opens, a love that suddenly springs. It is the name of a beloved sister who died at the age of thirteen as a result of a minor infection that could have been easily cured with access to basic healthcare.
Kajsiab is the name of a social project in which local people, with the help of a few foreigners, are dedicating their whole lives to reducing poverty and increasing education and opportunities in the rural area in which she lived. It is a project that means that Kajsiab may not have died in vain…
Kajsiab, based in Huay Xai, near the Thai border in the north-west of Laos, is an initiative that with its unique combination of Hmong and Western perspectives on matters such as education, healthcare and women’s rights is selflessly seeking to improve the lives and health of some of the poorest people in the country of Laos. In the short term they have already achieved this.
At their Daauw Home Guest House and restaurant the Kajsiab Initiative provides women from the local villages with a place to sell their beautiful handmade products such as bags, skirts, rugs and belts. It is also here at the Guest House that Nzoua and Lara take on interns from the local mountain villages. The interns remain at Daauw Home for periods ranging from anything between a couple of months to several years, and during this time the Lao & Hmong interns receive training in the hospitality industry, business and administration matters and the English language, as well as receive a fair monthly salary for their work there. In addition to all of this an area of Daauw Home is also dedicated to the providing of a place of shelter for the families of patients at the nearby hospital, with cooking and sleeping facilities provided free-of-charge.
This, however, is only the beginning of the work intended by the Kajsiab Initiative. It is the hope of Nzoua, Lara and their extended family that by the year 2020 their project will be entirely self-sustaining. It is their dream that by this time they will have built a women’s health clinic, established a clean water system in one of the local villages and built a school for use of seven of the villages. As part of this plan the profits from Daauw Home will be used to pay the salaries of two full-time Doctors who will work at the clinic.
It is a lot of work. Nzoua and Lara are people that are dreaming big, but after volunteering our time to the project and getting to know the passion and commitment of this wonderful couple it is something that I firmly believe they can achieve.
However, they will need some help along the way, your help, so please find out more about volunteering your time with The Kajsiab Initiative by emailing Lara Picavet at firstname.lastname@example.org
My partner and I only found out about this project on our “final” day in Laos. We only had one month left of our six-month South-East Asia trip when we met Lara, by chance, on the street as she was handing out flyers trying to attract travellers to the Guest House. A fortnight later and we are still in Laos and it looks like Thailand will have to wait until the next trip, because here in Huay Xai we have found something that we believe in.
This article was written by Alec Connon