Give Children A Choice is a non-profit organization, established in 2002 with the aim of building preschools in northern Laos and filling them with children. Mr. Dori Shimoda, founder of Give Children A Choice said the idea of building preschools in Laos began after he went backpacking in Southeast Asia in 2000. On that trip, he visited Luangprabang and during his eight days stay there, he visited many surrounding villages and noticed that there were too many primary school-aged children not attending school. Dismayed by the situation, he decided at that point to help the children of Laos.
Although he wanted to help, Mr. Shimoda said he had no idea about how to go about doing it because he had very little knowledge of Laos, a place where he had visited only 8 days. He spent about two and half years just trying to figure out how he could get things done in an efficient way that would benefit the children of Laos. He started out first by experimenting with putting water systems into some villages and putting electricity in more than ten homes.
Still he did not think that helped the children as much as he wanted to. So he began looking at preschools as a way of helping, and he started building the first one in 2002 at Ban Ainesavanh, close to Tad-Xe in Xieng-Ngeun District and the second one at Ban Tha-Penh close to Tad-Kuang-Xi falls in Luangprabang district. Mr. Shimoda said the focus is to help the children begin their education during the most critical time at their life. So his preschools were designed to be available to all children from three to five year-olds.
Mr. Shimoda said preschools built by his organization are equipped with water system, two toilets, sometimes it comes with a sink for the children to wash their hands, electricity, desks, black board, toy blocks, playground equipments, storage cabinets, school supplies, and books etc… His organization also pays up to two years’ salary for the teachers but requires that they come from the village or nearby, not far away, and that after two years the government must certify the teachers and pay their salary.
Give Children A Choice is a non-profit organization, which means most of the funding comes from individual donations; Mr. Shimoda himself and his wife, Barbara, who also holds the title of vice-president of the organization, have spent a lot of their own money to cover overhead costs. He said 100 percent of donation money goes toward helping Lao children.
Listen to our report for more details.