More about the village....
Work outside the village generally demands skills that few villagers have. Until the pandemic the tourism industry was booming in Luang Prabang (a UNESCO heritage site), but higher paying positions often require a knowledge of English which only our project coordinator, Bounchan, has. The remoteness of the village further complicates having a job in town: it can take over an hour to get to Luang Prabang by motorbike – longer during rainy season when the roads wash out, and, more importantly, there are only 8 motorbikes in the village.
Phoumieng is not connected to the national power grid. Toward the end of the dry season the village water supply is unable to meet demand.
There are only two toilets which serve a new school that was built in 2019. About 20% of village children do not attend the school because their parents see little value and find the fees too expensive (50,000 Kip, $5.40 USD per year). School stops at grade 5.
NGO activity in Laos has declined in recent years, and while the government has programs to bring a number of villages out of poverty each year, there is not enough money and many villages are in need.
Proximity to the China means that there is a good market for animals, decorative woods, and certain produce such as dried mushrooms; however, prices would be much higher if villagers could sell in Luang Prabang and not to an itinerant middleman..
Village GPS coordinates: 19 deg 52’ 58” N , 101 deg 52’ 11.6” E