For International Women’s Day, we focus on two of our amazing female staff from the Peuan Mit program in Lao PDR. Let’s meet Davanh Keoninanluck, the school follow-up and case manager (part of the Peuan Mit Reintegration Team) and Parsialy (Sia) Boualong, a non-formal education teacher and case manager, part of the Drop In Center/Outreach and Prevention team…
‘It’s Tuesday morning and Sia and Davanh set out to conduct school and family reintegration follow-up visits. Their day begins at 8:00am with a motorbike drive about 45 minutes to a community outside Vientiane capital. The first stop is Nong Song Hong primary school, where they meet with school administrators to check on five students currently supported by Peuan Mit. It is decided that Sia and Davanh will accompany an 11 year old student, Miss O, to her uncle’s house where she now lives, right near the school. Miss O’s parents used to send her to work on the streets in Vientiane, but with Peuan Mit support she is now in school and living with her uncle, who runs a successful farm, and cousins. The team speaks with him about how his niece’s education is progressing, and after she heads back to class they discuss the possibility of Miss O’s younger brother and sister (currently at the transitional home) coming to live with him as well. He is anxious to care for them but needs support for school uniforms and supplies. Sia delivers basic medical care to a family member’s wound, a wound that the local hospital did not offer any treatment for.
Next up, Davanh and Sia visit Oudamphone primary school where 19 children are supported by Peuan Mit. According to the attendance list, one boy has missed several classes, while his younger sister maintains perfect attendance. They visit the boy’s house and talk with him about his absences. He promises to return in the afternoon. Turns out he had been strategically missing classes when a test was scheduled! Although the boy’s parents are working during the day, Sia and Davanh decide upon a time with the principal to come back and speak with them directly as well. His older sister is working in Thailand at the moment, but with help from Peuan Mit this will not be the case for the youngest generation.
After a quick lunch at a local pho shop, Davanh and Sia visit the final school. One boy has recently been reintegrated after resettling with his father (his mother had left the area with her new husband). The boy has a rash and needs medical attention, so the school asks Peuan Mit for their advice and access to services. They also discuss their wish for some art supplies so they can organize new and engaging activities for the children. Although Peuan Mit cannot support these at this time, they are happy to hear that the administrators are actively seeking ways to acquire them and also to expand their library collections in the Lao language. The team return at 2:00pm to the city. Sia is off shortly after to run educational activities with the Mobile School in another community; meanwhile, Davanh will compile the info from the day and take care of other administrative duties.’