Tuesday, February 26, 2008

IVEP Update

MCC's International Volunteer Exchange Program sends young people from all over the world to work placements in Canada and United states. This year we sent four young women from Laos.

In February, they had a conference in Ontario and they attended a peace workshop. Here are the Lao participants with their peace t-shirts and also in traditional Lao costumes (below). The two on the left are wearing traditional low-land Lao costumes, the middle person is a friend and the two on the right are dressed in Hmong costumes.

One of the women wrote after the conference: "I feel like my battery in my body is full and ready for another 5 months."

We wish them all the best as they continue in their assignments.

Resource Generation Tour (3)

Here are some more photos of the recent water tour that we helped to host.

Roy (far left, photo above) grew up in Mexico and asked about the cactus he noticed growing on the agriculture college campus. (In the photo, Manila, beside Roy, is holding some cactus.) Surprisingly, Lao people do not eat cactus. So Roy proceeded to tell them how to prepare it. Throw the cactus leaves in to water and boil it for a few minutes. Then wipe off the slime, chop it up (peel and all) add garlic, onions and chilies and you are ready to eat it as a sauce for rice. Roy assured them that cactus is delicious.
At the time, Roy took a bite of raw cactus and offered some to the Lao people with him. They refused and one of the women said that "they will wait until tomorrow morning" implying that if he was still alive in the morning, they would consider eating cactus.
The reason we found this whole cactus story surprising is because in our opinion, Lao people eat EVERYTHING. They eat bugs, worms, weeds, larvae, dog, chicken feet, fish heads, slugs, frogs, algae, ant eggs and the list goes on. Maybe if Roy comes back to Laos in 5 years, he will find lots of Lao people eating cactus with their rice.

The team took copious notes and photos to document what they were learning.

Sharing some photos with new friends.

Kaylie and Phyllis designed bags for the water tour team which were a big hit. The Lao Disabled Women hand wove them for us.

On the last night of the tour we had a garden party at the MCC office to honor our guests and show them some more Lao culture.
Before the party, the women from the Lao Disabled Women's Development Center sold some of their handiwork to the tour group. The women have been partners with MCC for many years and make a wide variety of high quality paper and woven products.

We had a baci ceremony where we tied strings around our guests' wrists as a symbol of blessing and community.
After the meal, the Donkoi Children's Development Center Young Volunteers performed some classic Lao music and we had a dance. It was a memorable evening for all!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Resource Generation Water Tour (2)

The team having a tour of the Sangthong District Hospital.

Micah has been growing a demonstration garden
to high-light integrated gardening techniques
including integrated pest management.
You'll see him in a photo further along.

Not just a scenic lake, but also a fish conservation area.

Some tour participants ready to go for an overnight learning adventure in the village.

The hospital team

Micah explaining water issues in a village.

As they say: "Well.... It's a deep subject."

Looking in and learning about wells and clean water issues.

Students lined up to learn about better health practices with
the water tour team in the background.

Hands on practice cleaning their teeth.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Welcome to MCC Resource Generation Water Tour

This week we at MCC Laos are hosting a resource generation tour. The focus of the tour is WATER so they will be visiting projects related to water for health (wells, latrines, health education) and for agriculture (irrigation, ponds, up-land rice research).

Most of the tour members are related to MCC in a direct way; they are board members, staff or volunteers. Each person on the tour will return to Canada or United States to give presentations which will raise money and awareness for MCC water projects all over the world.

On the first night, I (Phyllis) went with part of the group to the Lane Xang Hotel to listen to some traditional instruments. There are two professional musicians in the group who are interested in Lao music.

Here is Les singing "100 Miles" with the Master of Ceremonies and the Lao band.

Above is Joel discussing instruments with Fi, a musical friend of MCC.

The group's first stop is Laos and then they will proceed to Cambodia for a week.