A story from Laos by Clémence, technical advisor with Peuan Mit.
The city landfill is an immense site of over 10 hectares located at Km36, off Road 13 South. Over 50 families work and live there. They look for plastic and scrap metal they can sell to the recycling facility located directly outside the landfill. Successful families can earn up to 3 million kip a month, a fairly significant amount which explains why, despite the very difficult and risky living and working conditions, adults and children alike can be reluctant to switch to other professional or educational activities.
Peuan Mit currently works with 30 to 40 children and youth onsite. Outreach work at the dumpsite started in 2008 when it was still located at Km18. When Vientiane Municipality decided to change its location, families and children followed, and so did the Peuan Mit staff.
During the school holidays Outreach and Mobile school teams visit the site once a week each. Mobile school activities consist in offering the children the opportunity to wash their hands and faces with soap, play sports such as badminton, read story books, draw and color pictures, eat fruits, and receive basic medical care. The outreach team, while providing similar services, focuses on providing children with counseling, life skills and material support. They also inform youth over 15 years of age about various vocational training options available to them.
Thus Ms.S expressed her wish to leave the dumpsite to outreach workers in late 2010. After discussing with her parents and assessing various options she visited the vocational training restaurant Makphet as well as the dormitory. She decided she liked both places and started training at the restaurant in September 2010. She is now 18 and progressing well with her studies.
Mr.V who is 16 and has completed primary school may follow her lead in the coming weeks. His mother would be happy for him to join vocational training, “as long as he likes it” she declares. At the next Mobile School visit Mr.V will go back to the city with the truck and see for himself the restaurant, the garage and the dormitory. He may also be interested in computer or English training which Peuan Mit also support. His case has already been reported to all the team leaders ensuring whatever he decides he will obtain the help he needs.
You can read more about our Peuan Mit program here.