This morning we had an invite to a book party at a rural village school from Big Brother Mouse. Big Brother Mouse focuses on publishing books that improve literacy and quality of life; and on making those books accessible, particularly in rural Lao villages. Books are scarce in Laos. Many people have never read anything except old textbooks and government pamphlets.
The project uses the slogan, “Books that make literacy fun!” Its first books, published in 2006, were easy picture books designed to have a strong appeal for children. Since then, it has expanded to publish books for all ages, “designed not only to make reading fun, but also to share information about the wider world.” A growing number of titles focus on health, nutrition, history, and science. The school is located in the village called Noonsavath, about a 45 minute drive from Luang Prabang. The children were very happy to see the Big Brother team, also as the school teachers could hand over the kids to the team and enjoy a nice lazy morning, I also think they were happy to see them! The BBM team do a great job in keeping the children entertained whilst educating them and getting them really excited about books. There were a mixture of activities planned, puzzle activities, singing, games, storytelling and drinks and snacks. In the village there is a Buddhist temple, the family’s son who is a monk attends this school, in accordance to the rules of being a monk they cannot play, therefore whilst the other children were playing this monk could only watch. I found that quite tough and sad. Suppose rules are rules. Shortly before we left the BBM team gave the children a book each and donated a number of books to the school library. The children were so very happy to receive a book. Things we take for granted. In the west if you gave a child a book they would throw it back at you and ask where is my computer game?!
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Handing out chocolates
The children learning a new song
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Village children learning a new song
The children enjoying their books
Back in Luang Prabang in the afternoon we had a quick wander to both Ock Tock shops. They provide a free tuk tuk to the Living Craft Centre so we popped down again (it is also very close to our hotel so saved us a tuk tuk fare!) We joined a free tour of the facilities, had a browse in the shop and had some lunch there after which we popped into Phousy Market a short walk away and then a ten minute walk to the hotel.
At the hotel we relaxed, before heading back into the city centre. We bought a nice hanging piece for our house from Ock Pop Tok. Whilst Sangeet had a wander/shopping trip around the night market, I visited the vegetarian stall. Afterwards I joined Sangeet at the night market.
Usually around wherever we stay I like to have a walk, here I did the same. As it was a Friday night it seemed like people wanted to relax and go out. Like everywhere else in the world drinking is big with some people. Apparently in Lao they have one to two drink driver deaths everyday. Shocking.