Monthly Achievement Report: 5am Charitable Trust Challenge
• To provide economic assistance for food support, medical aid and small infrastructure projects to vulnerable groups within the Luang Prabang community.
• Provide authentic and life changing volunteering experiences to GVI volunteers and inform and immerse volunteers in traditional Lao/Buddhist activities.
• Establish ourselves as a valued and responsible organisation in the community.
From May 25th to 29th our in country volunteers participated in our annual fundraiser for the GVI Charitable Trust. The goal was to raise US$4000 to enable GVI Laos to continue its valuable work sponsoring students who would otherwise not have access to education. The funds would also enable GVI Laos to continue providing support to the local community for small infrastructure projects, medical support and general needs. The students that are supported by the Trust come from varied backgrounds, some are novice monks, others are lay people from the community who come to stay in Luang Prabang for a better education.
The volunteers, with the support of family and friends at home participated in our ‘5am for 5 days challenge’. The challenge was to get up at 5am every day for five days to give alms to the Buddhist monks in our community. Many of the Buddhist monks and novices are also students the volunteers teach throughout the week. Participating in this challenge enabled the volunteer teachers a unique insight into the day to day life and spirituality of their students.
Alms giving is a very important part of the Buddhist tradition and culture in Laos. Every morning monks and novices walk silently through the streets of Luang Prabang collecting food from local people. The food they collect is their only food for the day. Most locals get up early to cook hot sticky rice which they take in baskets either to the pavement in front of their homes or to the road outside their nearest temple. They kneel quietly, under an umbrella if it’s raining, and as the line of monks pass by each receives a small handful of rice in his bowl. The local people who give alms do so to gain merit, also an integral part of Buddhism, by freely giving with no expectation of reward.
Each morning our volunteers travelled to various temples around town to give alms where our novice students live, as well as giving alms outside our volunteer home with the local women from our lane. Everywhere the volunteers went the local men and women welcomed them, showed them where to kneel and appreciated the effort they were making to behave properly while taking part in this daily ritual. Lao people love to share their culture with foreigners, and it was a special opportunity for our volunteers to experience authentic daily life in Laos. On some occasions the novices stopped and chanted a short blessing for all those who had given.
By the end of the five days the volunteers were tired but overjoyed to have reached the target! They all felt privileged to have taken part in the ceremony and agreed that it is an uplifting way to start the day.
A huge thank you to everyone who participated and donated, with your generous support our project is able to continue providing education and opportunities to the local community. Kop Jai Lai Lai!
If you would like to find out more about our Charitable Trust you can visit justgiving.com/englishluangprabang and make sure to check out our Facebook page – facebook.com/GVILaosLuangPrabang – for more pictures of our sleepy challengers giving alms!
Written by 6 month Intern Sue
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