Laos is the most bombed country per capita, IN THE WORLD, with over 2 million tons of unexploded ordnances littered throughout the country. In fact, at the end of the war there remained over 80 million UXO’s in Laos and one third of the country is still unsafe to venture into.
However, these facts are not the problem. They are only the cause. The cause, which has subsequently created the resulting problem. Laos has an education problem.
The fact that Laos’ literacy is ranked 150 of 184 countries in the world, is because they have been rebuilding for the past 40 years. A rebuilding that has not allowed for the integration of one simple thing in their culture. Books.
Imagine a place where at school there are only three subjects: Math, Science & Lao Language. A place where the majority of the adult population is illiterate because of the Vietnam war. A community that collectively doesn’t quite grasp the importance of encouraging their children to go to school each day and definitely does not invest in their children’s education resources like textbooks, school supplies, and storybooks. A culture that allows their children to drink from the many polluted streams because they cannot afford a water pump at the school.
The problem in Laos is multilayered but it can be boiled down to these points in no particular order. The adult population of the coffee communities on the Bolaven Plateau are poor and illiterate. This leads to them not requiring their children to attend school daily because they don’t grasp the importance.
Laos’ education department on the Bolaven Plateau has a lack of funding from the Government because of too many middlemen taking a piece of the action. Every single village needs education aid but the resources are minimal.
Who’s affected? The Bolaven Plateau is where The liveGLOCAL Foundation has been working the past three years. This area has approximately 500 Coffee Growing Families ~20-25,000 people. Our estimate is that the Bolaven Plateau has 150+ village school houses, almost all of which are primary schools, which are k-5th grade
“Thats the difference between a charity and a social business. In charity when you give money, it goes away. It never comes back. So charity dollar only has one life. If you use it, its done. But if you can design this into a Social Business, then suddenly that social business dollar has endless life. Because it recycles. It starts moving back and forth, again and again. You touch many more lives. And it continues ever and ever.”
An ideal solution to the education problem on the Bolaven Plateau is a crowd funded coffee shop to be built in Paksong, Laos, where all business profits are reinvested back into the education system. These profits will be allocated to building school libraries, building sports (play) facilities, and drilling clean water pumps at the schools. Other than paying for employee salaries and operation costs, no coffee shop profits will be taken out of the company for personal gain.
What type of coffee shop will be built? The type of coffee shop has not been determined yet. However, the goal in mind is to create a spot that both locals and backpackers would both equally want to hang at. It will have a coffee shop area with computers for tourists and welcome english speaking locals who want to integrate with these tourists and learn computer skills and conversational English. Almost all locals do not have email accounts or have computers skills and we see this as an opportunity to offer this to high school aged Laotian children and adults who are interested. There is also a great need for Laotian adults to become more familiar with technology and learn computer skills.
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