Up until a couple of years ago, most children aged between three and five in rural villages in Laos were not attending preschool. This was largely due to the lack of facilities, trained teachers and learning materials, but also because most parents in rural Laos didn’t understand the importance of early childhood education for children.
Education is a key pathway to breaking the cycle of poverty. As one of the least developed countries in the world, Plan, with the support of SAMA, is working in northern Laos to provide children aged 0-8 years with support for their development. This is being done through education for parents on health, early stimulation and learning, access to quality formal and informal preschool services, as well as school readiness for older children.
Last week Intrepid had an extremely loud and fun night for its long term staff – 20 people who each have over 10 years of service gathered in Melbourne, Australia, for an unbelievably noisy dinner (this lot can talk!). Co-founders, Darrell Wade and Geoff ‘Manch’ Manchester, also made the second induction into the Intrepid Hall of Fame, recognising Sally Goldstraw for her valuable contribution.
In late January, when the 19th Egyptian Marathon took place in Luxor, one special entrant caused some surprise and consternation. In fact the policeman at the car park said that young Felix wasn’t allowed.
After much negotiation by Felix’s companion, Kim, he was able to proceed and win hearts along the way. You see Felix is an orphan and resident of Animal Care in Egypt (ACE). That’s right, Felix is a donkey!
Bryceson Hassan Kimali was one of PEAK East Africa’s long-serving cooks and a much-loved member of the team working on East African and South African trips. He was born on 22 February, 1964, in Arusha, Tanzania. He joined PEAK East Africa Limited, when it was then known as Guerba Kenya Limited, in 1996 as a cook, a role that also doubles as a Camp Master.
We are thrilled that Intrepid’s Dheeraj ‘Monty’ Bhatt is a finalist for the prestigious Wanderlust World Guide Awards 2012. This is the fifth year that Intrepid group leaders have either won or been shortlisted for the accolade of world’s best tour guide.
Monty follows in the footsteps of Bruno Dawsan, Intrepid’s guide in Sri Lanka who received gold in the 2011 awards and bronze in 2010. Tejendra Singh took the bronze award in 2009 and Esam Abd El Salam from Egypt won the gold award in 2008.
With 53,000,000 girls in developing countries being denied access to primary school, there’s no prize for guessing what type of future lies ahead for most of these young women. Gender inequality remains a massive issue, so Intrepid has partnered with Plan for project SAMA. Our aim is to bridge the gender gap through education and our first focus is establishing parenting and community learning groups in up to 45 villages in Laos.
Plan has had encouraging results with other programmes that instil gender equality at an early age and their initiative in El Salvador is an example of how education early in life is a great foundation for a more equal and violence-free society…
At home we often fall into the trap of not being able to see beyond the world in which we live. Tina Jensen’s story is about her journey of discovery in Vietnam, where she tried things that she would never do at home and gained a whole new outlook on life…
“Intrepid’s promise of “discovering worlds beyond your own” conjures up images of new places, faces, experiences, the excitement of the unknown. It gets people thinking. Gets people dreaming. Gets people wanting to get out of the confines of their every day lives and see more of the world. I love it!
As a child, Miss Chanh felt hopeless. She was born with clubfeet and could not run around like the other kids. She had great difficulty walking and had to use crutches to move around. Chanh lives in the very beautiful and mountainous Oudomxay province in the north west of Laos.
Although the treatment now offered through the centres for babies born with clubfoot is non-invasive and highly successful, it was not available 20 years ago when Chanh was born. During her teens, Chanh received an orthotic, but over time it broke and was painful.
Peace on earth – this is something we all hope for, but do we really expect to find it? Dara Leonard went in search of somewhere tranquil and her journey led her to Botswana…
“Have you ever felt 100% at peace with yourself and what you were doing? The first time I had this feeling was when I was in the Okavango Delta. If you can picture this scene… the sun is shining bright overhead, there is a slight breeze on a perfectly warm day. You head down to the water’s edge where the mokoros (local canoes traditionally made from a dugout tree) are all lined up with people from the nearby community there to help load the boats. .
Phuong* ran away from home when he was 10 years old. He was born in the far north of Vietnam. His mother lives in China and his father sold him to an extended family member when he was just 7 years old. His adopted family treated him badly, and insisted that he work on the streets instead of going to school. Phuong ran away to Hanoi.
Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation staff met him in late 2011 at the local market. Sadly, they’ve been unable to locate a family member willing or able to take care of him. So now Phuong is living at Blue Dragon’s shelter in Hanoi where he’s being supported to go back to school. He’s a really happy, friendly kid and loves going to school every day.