Porlai is 6 years old and studies in year 1 class. Her father’s name is Kha and her mother is Xong. They are ethnic Hmong and their village in Laos never had an elementary school until now. Thanks to supporters of World Renew and Tear Australia, and with the support of the government of Laos, we have made it possible for hundreds of young boys and girls like Porlai to experience the gift of education.
Working with Porlai’s mom and dad and other villagers, World Renew got their school built. On the day I was privileged to visit, Zambee Phonlavong, part of World Renew’s education support team, was working with the government-paid teacher to assess the children’s language ability in the Lao-lum language. Lao-lum is the majority culture language, but the children don’t know it when they start school. Zambee supports the teachers to manage multiple grade and mother tongue classes.
For me, seeing the children at their rustic desks, and watching Zambee work with the teacher was a gift. The way Porlai and two young boys bent their heads together over the paper on their desk brought back the memory of my own son, Joseph, in Mary Hill Primary school back in Belize, sharing a desk with a mestizo Belizean and an African Belizean, Joseph always on the left side of the three-kid bench so his writing hand could work freely.
The sight of Porlai and those young boys also resonated with my grandmother’s history of being a monolingual Dutch immigrant child in a one-room schoolhouse in Fife Lake, Michigan. And, I think the scene moved me because of the odds Porlai and her people face. Yet there they are: valuing the gift of education, persisting in the rustic conditions, and working through their language barriers. That scene helped renew in me the meaning of our work.
I hope that somehow this letter helps make your support of World Renew more meaningful for you as well.
World Renew Asia