Monday, April 12, 2010

Take only photographs, leave only footprints (and maybe a few pencils)

I can't imagine Phayong sees very many visitors, this is one of the reasons we liked it so much.  It is a step back in time and feels untouched by western influences.  It's challenging to travel to these types of locations though, not only logistically, but also there is a certain pressure to travel very conscientiously.  It is a balance of wanting to observe, learn, or even partake in another person's culture but not intrude or influence it too much with your own.  It was important for me to remember this as we walked around the village and my mind was racing with all the things we could give and do for these people to make life "better" (because really, who am I to come in and say what will make things better for them?).

Making us dinner in their house

Looking at the children, young girls and the mothers I kept thinking, trying to convince myself, "I could live like this if I had too".  But here's the thing, I don't have to because I have grown up with the privilege of choice (among many other things), something I was reminded of over and over during our stay.  So what could help give these children have some choice as they grow up?  Definitely an education, a benefit so many of us take for granted.  With a new school built and the Laos government working to educate it's children we felt helping in this area would be not overstepping our welcome or imparting our values too much.  So, working through Pencils of Promise, we brought with us school supplies collected by the students at our school.  It was awesome to see their little faces light up with something as simple as a pencil or a sticker.

 Handing out stickers

 School room for the older students

 Preschool room - more stickers, the forehead was a favorite location

 This is the girl that gave us the bananas... super cute!


  1. amazing photos and wonderful commentary. thanks for sharing your experiences in Laos!

  2. wow- what an experience- I agree with Brett, thank you!

  3. Thank you for including a picture with Ses. For some reason I can't quite get enough.

  4. Brett and Maddy - thanks for reading!

    Dennis - sorry it wasn't such a good one. The next post has a better one - enjoy!