Committed to making a positive change in the lives of the underprivileged both locally and abroad, another educational cum community service trip was successfully organised to Laos. A total of 10 students and two teachers from R.E.A.L International School (RIS), Shah Alam Campus made the trip from 30th August to 3rd September 2016. Upon landing at Vientiane International Airport, the students wasted no time in exploring the best of what the capital city had to offer.
The tour commenced with a visit to the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise Centre (COPE), a local non-profit organisation that provides clinical treatment and rehabilitation programmes for Laotians with physical disabilities. COPE is entrusted with designing and making customised prosthetic limbs for landmine victims. RIS parent Mr. David Lee Boon Tat, generously made a donation of USD 1,000.00 to the organisation. Later that evening, the tour concluded with an evening walk along the breathtaking Mekong River which separates Laos from Thailand.
The next day saw the group travelling about 450km on a 10-hour van ride through the scenic countryside to Xieng Khuang Province. There, they stayed at the Mulberries Silk farm which is owned and managed by Kommaly Chantavong, a 2015 Ramon Magsaysay Award recipient for her contributions in community outreach programmes in Laos. At the farm, students were able to feed silk worms; harvest cocoons; spin, weave and dye silk all by themselves; and even taste fried silk worms which is a popular local delicacy.
The group then proceeded to visit Ngoy Primary School in Xieng Khouang where a donation of USD 200.00 was made by RIS to help equip poor students with educational materials. The school even requested for ‘R.E.A.L assistance’ in setting up a small library for its students. Fortunately, RIS managed to raise some funds through donations to buy books and stationery which were duly couriered to the school later that month. There was also another request for R.E.A.L teachers to conduct English courses for the students there, an outreach project which will take place next year.
Another eye-opening site visit was to the ‘Plain of Jars’, where 127 bombs were unearthed and detonated. An estimated 270 million bombs were dropped in Laos, out of which 80 million ‘live’ bombs still remain undetonated. The final day saw the group visiting a night market as well as a few Buddhist temples and monuments where students learnt about and immersed themselves in the rich culture and heritage of Laos. Overall, the trip was both fun and fruitful as the R.E.A.L students not only expanded their horizons but also left a lasting impression on the people they met there.