Abundant Water (AW), in partnership with German non-profit The Bamboo School Foundation, has recently helped deliver 30 water filters to Phonxai Village, a small community in the Ngoy District of Laos.
The Bamboo School Foundation has worked previously with this village and expressed an interest in collaborating with AW to deliver water filters to this community. Like many villages in Laos there is no direct road or river access to Phonxai village, the journey from Bamboo School’s office in Nong Khiaw involved a three-hour boat ride and a one-hour trek over a mountain.
Staff from AW and the Bamboo School Foundation were welcomed by the village with a baci. A baci is a traditional ceremony in Laos and is held during important life events such as births, funerals and weddings as well as during farewells and greetings. The purpose of the ritual is to recall a person's souls to attract positive influences. According to Lao belief each human being has 32 souls. At the end of the ritual a cotton string is tied around the wrists of the participants which is meant to symbolise prosperity and good luck.
Following the baci and after eating dinner and drinking lao-lao (rice whiskey) with the village chief (nai ban), staff from AW and the Bamboo School demonstrated the water filters to the village and fielded questions from locals.
The next morning, all 30 filters were purchased by the households. Staff then spent the morning assisting individual households with the installation of filters. By nightfall, all filter systems were operational, and the evening was spent watching Thai boxing (Muay Thai) on television with the locals.
Our experience in Phonxai was representative of many of the problems remote villages face in gaining access to clean water. Without a functioning water pump or latrines, access to water is challenging and available water sources are often prone to contamination. Due to its isolation, this community is also often overlooked by NGOs and its lack of access to transportation and infrastructure makes development ever more challenging.
However, as a result of relationships that had already been established on Bamboo School’s previous field trips, building trust and rapport with a new community was made significantly easier. The hospitality of Phonxai was immensely gratifying and AW is eager to continue its partnership with the Bamboo School Foundation and expand its impact within the Ngoy District. We hope to continue to increase our activities in the district which stands to benefit from the AW approach to delivering sustainable and secure water for all.