The Laos Buffalo Dairy (LBD)
The LBD is not an ordinary dairy! It was started by 2 expat families who met in Singapore, one from Australia, the other from the US, who realized that there was no dairy industry in Laos – nobody was milking any of the buffalo, and saw an opportunity to help local farmers. The dairy rents approximately 200 pregnant buffalo from local farmers for up to 6 months, vaccinates and otherwise cares for them, and produces cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. The Dairy also has a breeding program to cross-breed local buffalo with Indian Murrah buffalo to increase milk production. (The LBD is located just south of Luang Prabang: click here to see its location at the lower center of the map on page 2.) Dairy GPS: 19 deg 47' 34" N , 101 deg 59' 09" E
The Dairy has offered to give villagers from Phoumieng a one-day workshop on cattle management and husbandry, and to introduce them to staff and students from the Northern Agriculture and Forestry College for information on improved farming techniques.
The LBD story is fascinating and impressive. Check it out at www.laosbuffalodairy.com
60 Million Girls
The Mobile Learning Lab (MLL) concept originated with the non-profit organization 60 Million Girls https://60millionsdefilles.org/en/ and has been used by them successfully in areas without internet in 16 countries ranging from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Nepal, and sub-Saharan Africa: Sierra Leone, the DRC, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Liberia, Kenya, Tanzania. In 2020 they hoped to be in Togo, South Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe – and possibly Mali and Ethiopia as well. An excellent description of their work can be found in the December 2018 report describing two trial projects in Sierra Leone, click here.
Mobile Learning Labs
The advantages of MLLs are their portability – a knapsack can easily carry the micro-server and 10 or more tablets, and their low cost – of the order of $1,500 to $1,800 USD for a 10 tablet setup (excluding a solar generator for recharging in remote villages, screen protectors, and headphones).
The micro-server we are using is known as a RACHEL-pi/plus which costs $500 USD for the 500GB model. It was developed by WorldPossible, a non-profit located in California https://worldpossible.org/rachel , using Raspberry-Pi technology created by Eben Upton. (RACHEL: Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning.)
RACHEL micro-servers, which look like small “flying-saucers”/Frisbees about 7” (18 cm) in diameter and 2cm thick, come with content such as subsets of Wikipedia and Khan Academy, medical and agricultural reference books, and educational material including grade 1 and higher level English storybooks, and textbooks up to the college level. They can also be loaded with whatever content a user might desire.
Our, hopefully robust, tablets are Amazon Fire tablets (16 GB) with 8” screens priced at around $75 USD -- though a sale in September 2019 had them as low as $60 USD, plus taxes. Screen protectors, annoyingly, cost about $10 USD each, though we are trying out a cheaper model at about 1/3-rd the price on one of the tablets. Headphones add another $9 -11 USD.
Solar generators, such as those installed in Phoumieng, can be used to charge the RACHEL and tablets.