Supporting rural students: Sponsorships and life-long friendships
Since early 2013, GVI has been in partnership with a Lao local who generously provides a home in Luang Prabang for 8 children from a rural village. In doing so these students, who are lovingly referred to as the ‘Ban Ma’ children, have access to the greater educational and employment opportunities available in Luang Prabang which are not available in rural Laos. GVI Laos supports our local partner and these students by providing basic needs support through our Charitable Trust and free English classes through our in-field volunteer program. One person who has made this possible is a vivacious, passionate women named Cindi. Cindi joined GVI Laos as a volunteer for 4 weeks in June 2014. While teaching the Ban Ma children, she formed a close bond with them.
Above: Cindi with the Ban Ma children
“In June 2014, I arrived in Luang Prabang to start volunteering as a teacher. I had no idea that my heart and soul would forever belong to the people of this beautiful city. I did not expect how much they would educate me about life. They taught me that even when someone has nothing, they can and will share everything. They taught me that education can change people’s lives, including their family’s lives…I did not expect their incredible appreciation of others and it made me realise just how wasteful we are in the western world.” (Cindi Thorn, 2015)
Above: Cindi with some of the Ban Ma children performing a song for the end of summer school
When she departed, Cindi decided that she wanted to continue to contribute to the Ban Ma children’s futures. Since July 2014 Cindi has been a significant contributor to the portion of the GVI Laos Charitable Trust funds that are donated to the Ban Ma children.
In September this year Cindi returned to Luang Prabang, this time to volunteer with us for 2 months. In addition to teaching the Ban Ma children (along with several other classes) and continuing her contribution to their basic needs support, Cindi had also fundraised prior to her trip, enabling her friends, family and colleagues to contribute to Ban Ma and our project through monetary and educational donations (an entire suitcase full!). To say thank you and show their appreciation the Ban Ma children invited Cindi and GVI Laos’ Project Manager Molly to their village to meet their families and share their homes, cultures and traditions.
Above: GVI Laos Project Manager Molly with some of the Ban Ma children during a visit to their village
‘It was a great honour to meet their families and the other people in their village.’ (Cindi Thorn, 2015)
GVI Laos sincerely thanks Cindi for her contribution towards our ability to continue to make a difference in the lives and futures of the Ban Ma children.
Written by Field Staff Member Leyla Isin
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