Give Children A Choice, a U.S.-based, non-profit organization, began building preschools in northern Laos in 2002.
“Our goal was 3 preschools for the years 2004, 2005 and 2006,” said Mr. Dori Shimoda, founder and president of Give Children A Choice “but we completed three for each of those years.”
Give Children A Choice has set a target to build a total of 10 preschools this year. Mr. Shimoda said so far five have already been built, and he expected five more to be finished before the end of the school year.
He added that the goal of his organization is to continue helping children in Laungprabang province. “It’s going to be circumstances that will cause us to move to other provinces. And an example of that will be a contingent of supporters in the U.S. that says why not help villagers in Sayaburi or Phongsaly provinces or further down south, like in Pakse or Savannakhet.”
Until now, Give Children A Choice has completed 13 preschools in 5 districts of Luangprabang, including Ainesavanh, Pakkhan, Long Or and Suane Laung in Xing Nheun district, Nongkhiew and Nongbia in Ngoi district, Napho, Thapenh, Mouangkhai, Kokngiew in Luangprabang district, Pak Nga, Phouleuy and Pak Ou in Phonh Xai, Phou Khoun and Pak Ou district respectively.
Besides preschool children, around six thousand elementary school-aged girls, who had not been able to go to school full time because they have to watch their siblings, also benefit from the program, according to Barbara Lee Shimoda, Give Children A Choice’s vice president.
This month when Mr. Shimoda and his group return to Laos, they will explore potential new sites for a combined preschool-health center in more remote areas of Luangprabang. Most of the preschools that they have built are near a main road.
“We’ve tried to figure out, and we haven’t figured it out yet, whether there is a group of people, may be Lao people, who will help us identify needy children, not only preschool children. Let’s say that we can create an endowment program, to help smart children, all of the children advance to primary school, middle school, high school and into college,” said Mr. Shimoda about his vision.
Besides Laos, Give Children A Choice has also gone into Cambodia to help some Cambodian children; however, Mr. Shimoda said he is committing most of his energy and his organization’s funds on the Laos project.
Listen to our report for more details in Lao