Vol. 3 No. 9. February  2012

In This Issue:
  • News from Sunshine School - Vientiane Campus
  • News from Donkoi Campus
  • Volunteers
  • Farm Development & Veuntaen Campus
  • Sunshine Family News

Welcome to the ninth edition of Sunshine Laos Newsletter. In this newsletter, we would like to share with you the latest happenings in our Sunshine School community. We would appreciate any comment or suggestion you might have in order to make the newsletter better.

1.  News from Sunshine School – Vientiane Campus

November 2011 – mid February 2012

New building

          Bird’s eye view of the primary and middle school grounds from the 2nd floor of our new building.

We have been fortunate to be able to increase our classrom space by renting an adjacent town house to which we could make direct access to the school by breaking down part of our school’s back wall. The building has 4 floors and 6 large rooms. We have already moved the teachers’ room to that building and in the future, plan to move the library and computer room.

School Garden

The magic of creating the school grounds continued in November and December with each primary class having their own vegetable patch to plant, label and look after. Grade 2/1 with Teacher Pathuma’s crop was an exemplary garden.

Some classes made mosaic stepping stones, some bamboo play equipment, bridges and a garden hut. Kanika fashioned shaded walkways with bamboo arches covered with a shade cloth.

The icing on the cake was a fountain near the relocated flag pole; this and the sprinklers for watering the plants have fulfilled some of the kids’ visions for a playground with cooling water areas.

M3/M4 Excursion

As part of their ‘garden design,’ M3 & M4 (Grades 8 & 9) classes designed a tree house hang-out space and a café.  Due to various logistics, as it was not possible to build the tree-house at the school, the students went on a field trip out to the farm in order to help build a ‘hang-out’ space there which can be used by local youth and visitors. The café at school is still a possiblity.

Anfernee writes about the field trip:

In a moment that I can only describe as “magical,” Principal Phoutsavan proposed that even though we couldn't build something in the school grounds, there was an opportunity for the students to go to our village school in Veuntan and build something there. This would mean an overnight trip out to the village and we could also celebrate Christmas there with the Veuntan students. Furthermore, the kids could write a report about their trip and combine it with photos to produce a book that we could keep in the library for future generations to read.

During the week leading up to the trip, it was wonderful to see the Sunshine School kids creating games to teach the Veuntan village school kids, as well as the various groups practising for performances that they would put on as part of the night program. There was a combined M3 & M4 singing performance (the chosen song was Bruno Mars' "Lazy Song"), the M4 girls reviving the Korean dance that they performed at WIG Bazaar, and a few of the M3 & M4 boys doing a combined Tae Kwon Do and B-boy show.
The trip to Veuntan was a wonderful experience, filled with adventure, friendship, and fun. The interaction between the city kids and the village kids brought about many priceless memories. We were all blown away by the Veuntan kids and their traditional Lao dancing, bamboo stilt race and variation of jumping rope using bamboo! The gift exchange between the students of the two schools was a lot of fun, especially when the city kids were gifted different types of fruit and vegetables from the village. I can still remember the excitement on M4 student Juno's face when he was given the large coconut. It was as if he had just won the lottery! Another of my favourite moments was when the female village students asked to take photos with some of the male city students.  It was like they had become instant pop idols

 WIG (Women’s International Group) Bazaar

Anfernee writes:

On the day of the bazaar, Sunshine School had our own stall and we had teachers, volunteer Teresa (from Portugal) and students there early to set up.  The girls of the M3 Café team had cakes and fresh fruit for making blended fruit shakes ready, as well as the cards for sale. There was also a face painting table which was quite popular throughout the day thanks to our resident face painting artists Teachers Tookta, Maggie and Bhoutsaba.
We also  had some performers  with a M1 singing number with Didi Jyoti  on guitar, M2 boys dancing African Zumba with volunteer Teacher Madhu (the school will always remember 2011 as the year of the "Waka Waka" dance, the chosen song for the performance), and the M4 girls dancing their own Korean-inspired routine.

New Year’s Sports Competition

Each year in December, Mr. Chanphut, the sports teacher, organises an intra-school sports competition. The classes enjoy competing in ping pong, badminton, rattan ball (kicking a rattan ball over a high net), betong (a traditional ground bowls game) and fun ground games such as skipping and tug-o-war. At the International New Year’s Day celebration the winning teams get prizes while all the kids participate in spontaneous performances.

2. News from Donkoi Campus

As reported in the last newsletter we had started a youth football club at our school land in Don Koi village with the help of Madhu (as trainer) and in cooperation with Mme. Xuyen and Mr. Khamvanh from the DCDC (Donkoi Children’s Development Center).

The football activities have taken off like a forest fire and have now expanded to inspire children and youth in 5 more ‘villages’ (areas around Vientiane city) to practice regularly.

The youth footballers have transformed out Donkoi playing field buildings and entrance with colourful paintings and slogans to inspire all who visit the place.

After 3 months of training with Madhu, several youth were awarded certificates as provisional trainers and they have been passionately pursuing their new role and keeping up training in Donkoi with youth and children as well as going out to train in other villages. They are helped by Mr. To, a Lao professional coach.

Below is an excerpt from a ‘thank you’ letter from Mme. Xuyen:

Visitors are impressed and helped us with some modest funding and we are able to have the goal posts with nets and  other nets  were  up on both sides of the fields .  Also  we  filled  the field with five trucks of  soil  to level  -up the ground ..  All the labor work are done by the football youth trainees.  The youth also helped painting the front gate of the DREAM Football school and the 'club house' including,  the DREAM toilet 

The above impact to show you how Sunshine Schoolland  has helped us to bring benefit to so many people especially children and youth  who otherwise  have no opportunities to  have such  healthy activities for their body and mind.

In a report to EFA, who donated $US1,000 towards the football project, Mme Xuyen writes:
  • A warm-up exercise MANUAL  was prepared  for youth trainers to teach at different schools
  • BASIC SPORT EQUPMENT WAS MADE   and  shared with 5 other schools and child development centers
  • A meditation sessionfor 5-10 minutes after the warm- up and before the match is now a habit and practice. This is a VERY GOOD habit for the youth and the children to be calm and  be good team members and learn to become good trainers as well.
  • Five schools have sports for the children regularly with a manual for their warm up - Donkoi, Nahay, Donsangphai Donsavat and Udomphone. Each school averages 35 children. 210 children in all are benefiting from these football training activities.
  • 18 youth are capable to be trainers for school children; 6 DCDC are regular trainers for Donkoi and Nahay.  
It is so moving to see Mr. Sonlam, 16 years old, who is one of the youth trainees of DCDC.  He has been so inspired that he started to teach his neighborhood ( unit 39 of DK village ) children. Others wish to do the same. He started teaching with sticks and stones (for warm up activity markers) and a used ball.  When he teaches, he wears proper sport clothes and has a whistle; he looks dignified and when he speaks the children listen. He comes from a very poor family and he had tried drugs before . Without this passion, his football training, and now his personal training with children, it would be hard for him to stay inspired with life for he is not very interested in high school work alone.

                        Coloured plates used as markers                                       Kangaroo jumps

3. Volunteers

Since the last issue of our newsletter we have had several new volunteers – Echo from China, Siobhan from Ireland, Yuli from Australia, Delia from France, Haley from the USA, Mahipal from Maharlika (Philippines) and Vera from Germany.

                  Echo, Didi Jyoti, Teresa,     
Aurelien, Siobhan, Didi, Anfernee.

Siobhan took over from Sara & Malika to help our kids in the library with their leaf print postcards.

Echo helped the older kids with an entrepreneurial project to raise funds for their garden development plan – the kids and Toukta, the art teacher, created a post card project, which we plan to sell on line. To promote sales, Echo’s friend in China helped edit a film about the project; it will be released soon.

Anfernee writes:

Using a traditional etching technique, toothpicks or the metallic part of retractable pencils, and coloured crayons on paper, beautiful etchings of popular tourist land marks like Patuxay, Plain of Jars, That Luang as well as scenes depicting the mountains and rivers of Lao were made. On average, each etching took 30-60 minutes so it was a very labour-intensive process. There were also traditional Lao-style motifs and patterns, and some more modern styles of art such as cartoon figures. The work produced was truly impressive.

Echo and Amina with etchings; leaf print cards made by younger classes.

Julia, Delia and Vera spent time out at the farm with Saba helping with the kindergarten and afternoon English classes. Some of the youth like to spend evenings at our place to hang out with the volunteers and also teach them skills such as Lao cooking or Lao dance.

Yuli and Mahipal helped out with computer and accounting upgarding as well as getting involved in teaching English, photography and working on information and leaflets for our proposed ‘eco-voluntourism’.

Haley has taken over for Anfernee to help the English staff with this 2nd semester’s DFC (Design for Change) projects and also PR/networking for the school.

At the third week in January marked the end of the first school semester and we had an appreciation and farewell lunch for Anfernee and Jay who had been with us most of the first semester.

4. Farm Development & Veuntaen Campus

There have been many improvements at our Veuntan farm and kindergarten project. The outdoor stage and hall area were expanded and now servs as a dining hall when we have large groups for activities. The colourful new playground, made mostly of painted bamboo, with a slide, see-saws, climbing frames, nets, tunnels and bars is attracting not only our kindergarten students, but also primary aged students from the village. The teenage English students also enjoy to hangout and enjoy themselves before English classes.

Didi Jyoti writes: English and Yoga classes are continuing and the youth have learned many English phrases which they are eager to practice with classmates and volunteers at the farm. The kindergarden children are doing fine and made many drawings, given in a pack to happy parents. They speak some English words now and know to sing with enthusiasm some songs. Vangpheng, our kindergarten head teacher from Vientiane School, came out during her holidays to share new stories and teaching methods with the village teachers.

                                                           Village children learning numbers
New Land

In appreciation for our efforts to provide quality education for the village children and youth, for engaging them in activities and employment which help them to develop self-esteem and pride in their own Lao culture, the Veuntan Village committee has donated half a hectare of land to us. In the future they would like us to start more community development activities on that plot which is located in a newly designated housing development area. Families whose houses have been prone to flooding over the past few years have received plots of land in this new area which is on higher ground than their current dwellings.

Ta Champa Village Cultural Programme

The first weekend in February we were invited to attend a ‘Cultural Day’ by the neighbouring Ta Champa village. The occasion marked the opening of a new cultural house which was built with the help of funds from a Japanese NGO working in conjunction with the Faculty of Agriculture (of the National University).
As our contribution to the occasion, we were able to donate 6 fans for the local primary school. Our English students performed a wonderful ‘bamboo’ dance combined with an ‘anti-substance abuse’ drama.

Ta Champa villagers and the staff from the univserity and NGO representatives appreciated our participation and hope for future cooperation with us to spread good education among the children and youth of the area.

Didi Jyoti, Phoutsavanh, Siamphai (dance teacher from Vientiane school) and Didi with our Veuntaen English students after their performance.

5. Sunshine Family News

Both Jock and Souk have given birth during this period. Both births were anxious ones with some troubled days and weeks for both mothers and children, but everyone is doing well now. Souk’s baby daughter, Jaya, is already at school with her mum in the office.  Jock’s son, Jyoti, is still at home with his mum.


Upcoming Events

Sunshine School Annual Open House - Saturday, March 17
Lao New Year Program - Thursday, April 12


About the School

Sunshine School Laos is a non-profit, non-denominational institution dedicated to providing a multicultural, ethically-based education through integrated learning and the holistic development of the child. Sunshine School is grateful for the generous support of our local and international community, staff, students, families, volunteers and sponsors. 

Volunteer opportunities available! Visit our website for more information and to apply. 

Copyright © 2012 Sunshine School Vientiane All rights reserved.
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