Scholarships and Support for students in Laos

by Global Vision International Charitable Trust
Somchit and Sue
Somchit and Sue

Dear Supporters, 

The second scholar that we'd like to introduce you to in our series about the inspiring, hard working, determined and dedicated students that we get to work with in Luang Prabang is Somchit. 

Meet Somchit

Somchit is a Khmu student, who is from a rural village approximately 3 hours away from Luang Prabang city. His family are agricultural farmers. In 2009, Somchit moved to Luang Prabang to become a Novice Monk. In addition to spiritual reasons, young men commonly join the temple seeking food, shelter, greater access to education and the future employment opportunities this may bring.

Novice Somchit began studying English with GVI in 2009. He studied English and maths in GVI Laos’ free English classes for Novice monks made possible through donations to The GVI Trust and GVI Laos’ partnership with a local library. During this time, he was also sponsored by The GVI Trust to attend ARDA, a prestigious English language Centre.

Novice Somchit was a charismatic, dedicated student who consistently attended classes where he was active and engaged, soaking up all the knowledge he could. He also regularly practised his English by taking GVI volunteers on tours of his Temple and sharing the chanting experience with them.

Novice Somchit decided that when he left the temple, he wished to study abroad. With the help of several GVI volunteers and staff, including GVI Laos’ Education Coordinator Sue, Novice Somchit had individual tutoring, essay writing, application and interview tutoring as part of our free classes funded by The GVI Trust. Novice Somchit worked day and night to prepare for the gruelling application and interview process associated with this. After 2 essays, a creative writing piece and an interview in Vientiane, Novice Somchit was offered a scholarship to study in Canada.

In July 2015, Novice Somchit disrobed and travelled to Canada to begin his studies. This summer (July 2016) Somchit returned to Luang Prabang during his holidays and chose to volunteer his time with GVI Laos to give back and to pass on his skills to the next generation of students. During his time with us, Somchit translated in our classes, taught volunteers Lao, gave temple tours and used his passion for photography and filmography to direct and produce a short film about GVI Laos’ summer program in 2016.

While Somchit has now returned to continue his studies in Canada, he remains a special part of the GVI Laos Family and we look forward to welcoming him back next summer.

Thank you for your support and donations, we are humbled to have been able to help Somchit on his journey!

With Gratitude, 
GVI Laos


Dear Supporters, 

We had an incredible 2016 in Laos. Our Scholarships Program for students in Luang Prabang raised an incredible £19 000 and we were able to offer support to over 90 student.

Over the course of the next few months, we are going to introduce you to some of the inspiring, hardworking and determined students that we get to interact with!

Meet Sing

Sing is a Hmong student who began studying English with GVI Laos as a Novice Monk in 2010. Sing was a quiet achiever; shy but intelligent and dedicated. He attended our free Novice English classes made possible through donations to The GVI Trust and GVI Laos’ partnership with a local library. He was so dedicated to his studies that even when he left the temple, he continued coming to class!

Sing now speaks 6 languages; Hmong, Lao, English, Mandarin, Thai and French. In August 2015, Sing joined the GVI Staff team as a translator, using English, Lao and Hmong on a daily basis. In addition to translating for GVI at Luang Prabang’s largest temple school with 500 Novice students, Sing also received the GVI Introduction to TEFL training, taught countless Lao lessons to volunteers, was the GVI field staff’s Lao teacher, gave culture talks on Buddhism, life as a Novice Monk and Hmong culture, was featured on the GVI Laos blog and successfully and respectfully liaised with local partner and community members on behalf of GVI.

Sing says that “I enjoy working as a translator with GVI so far. I had been studying with them for four years as a Buddhist Novice Monk student. I feel this organisation is really helpful especially sponsoring Buddhist Novice Monks and lay people who come from the rural areas or come from poor families who can’t even afford their education. I found this is a really good way of improving Lao students to be able to communicate with foreigners and this has progressed a lot and it even can help their future as well. I am very happy that I can be a part of GVI and that I have the chance to help others in my communityI consider myself very fortunate for having a chance to work with GVI. Working with you guys was a great learning experience for me. I really value the knowledge and insight you have, and your willingness to share it with me.”

Last month, as a result of his diligence and experience, Sing received a scholarship to study a 6-year integrated course at a university in China. For the first year, he will go through an intensive university-level Mandarin course before beginning a degree at the university. We are incredibly proud of this achievement and look forward to seeing where the future takes him!

Thank you for your support and donations, we are humbled to have been able to help Sing on his journey!

With Gratitude, 
GVI Laos


Thank you for your support in 2016!
Thank you for your support in 2016!

Dear Supporters, 

This year we are pleased to share that we have built upon our sponsorship program in Luang Prabang. In 2016, we have seen a large increase of sponsored students. We have sponsored a total of 68 individual students at various educational institutions in Luang Prabang and an additional 78 students received sponsorship in the form of classroom/building rental for classes.

Individual Sponsorships

  • 6 students for a total of 16 terms at ADRA EnglishCentre
  • 6 students for the ADRA English Centre Summer Program
  • 22 students for 1 year at Mekong English Centre
  • 3 students for 1 year at university
  • 2 students at Chinese school
  • 1 student at Korean school
  • 1 student at School for the Deaf
  • 15 students for 1 year at High School
  • 6 students at Monk School
  • 4 students for a nationally recognised computer skills course
  • 1 student for 1 year at Teacher Training College
  • 1 student for 1 year at Finance College

Classroom Sponsorships

  • 35 young girls in our girls’ program
  • 13 students aged between 14-18 from rural Laos
  • An average of 30 Novice Monks

Nam Thuam Sponsorship Program

In 2016, we also began a new sponsorship program in Nam Thuam, a rural village 3 hours from Luang Prabang. This year we have sponsored 24 students from rural Laos to attend the Mekong English Centre in Nam Thuam, taking the total of GVI sponsored students to 92 in 2016!

Women's Empowerment Program

This year we launched a Women’s Empowerment Project. Between January and September 2016, through donations, we were able to rent classrooms to deliver English classes and health and life-skills workshops for the girls. We also teamed up with a loyal donor to hold a silent auction fundraiser in New York City, raising $4500USD. The majority of these funds went to purchasing bicycles for the girls. This empowers these young women to get safely and efficiently to and from school, increasing their access to educational opportunities. The remaining funds went to purchasing materials for sustainable menstrual health kits and to new desks and chairs for The Centre.

Additional Funds

  • Thanks to funds generously donated during the 2016 GVI Laos Trust 5am for 5days Challenge, we were able to rent our own premises for 1 year from September 2016. This building will hold free classes for Lao students in all three of GVI Laos programs: Novice Monks, Kids and Women’s Empowerment.
  • Contribute to the costs of materials for the construction of an English Centre in a rural village that is currently being built.
  • We have continued to provide basic needs, medical and school supply support which allows them to seize the educational opportunities available.
  • We donated large rubbish bins to a village school in support of the teachers’ push for waste management and environmental awareness.
  • Finally, we purchased the Jolly Phonics reading scheme and Madeline reading scheme to be used in many of our English classes and literacy workshops.

Overall, this year has been a huge success for this project! Looking ahead, in 2017 we wish to continue to expand our sponsorship program in Luang Prabang, build on the momentum of the new sponsorship program in Nam Thuam and continue to find new and exciting ways to increase access to educational opportunities within the Lao community! We hope that you will continue to offer your generous support in the new year!

We wish you a happy and prosperous 2017!

With Gratitude, 
GVI Laos

Dear Supporters, 

In August GVI volunteers were invited to Wat Phao Temple School to run a summer programme for the Novice Monks who live there. Wat Phao is the most prestigious temple school in the area and this was the first time we had been asked to provide lessons during the school holidays; so GVI volunteers and staff were delighted to accept the invitation and rose to the challenge of providing innovative and fun activities for the students.

As the classes would be optional for the students, we did not use the Cambridge certified textbooks as we do during the school term. Instead, we devised a programme concentrating firstly on science and geography, and secondly on an intensive phonics programme that was designed to introduce the new arrivals at the Temple to the sounds of the English language and to reinforce the older students spelling and reading abilities.

The geography unit included using world maps and country flags to identify and place continents, oceans, seas and countries. The students also learned vocabulary to describe different weather conditions and were able to write and present a weather forecast for provinces in Laos. They learned to use a thermometer and a rain gauge and to record data using block and line graphs. Having recorded the data, they then interpreted it; comparing rainfall and temperature for different provinces. In doing so, they were learning the days of the week, months of the year, numbers, mathematical calculations to work out averages and comparatives – hotter, colder, more, less, the highest, the lowest and so on. The students also learnt the basic elements of the water cycle.

The biology unit included learning the characteristics of things that are alive: movement, the ability to eat and drink, the ability to breathe, reproduction (plants only!!), growth and excretion. The students were introduced to the process of photosynthesis to illustrate the fact that plants make their own food and excrete oxygen and water. This was a completely new concept for them and they found it fascinating. The students also learnt how insects pollinate plants to create new seeds.

The phonics programme used the multisensory Jolly Phonics system, which we have introduced to all our beginner classes. Each letter sound has an accompanying action. Students and teachers have fun miming out words and students discover that they are able to spell long words if they listen for individual sounds and that they can decode new words when they are reading if they can identify the letters and sounds together.

To reinforce the phonics learning, Dr. Seuss's ‘Cat in the Hat’ story was converted to PowerPoint and used in the classrooms so that the students could participate in a shared reading experience.The teachers and students read the story together – with expression! The words containing letter sounds that had been taught appeared in red so that students could quickly identify and read them. The class was invited to find words that sound the same as each other, further reinforcing the idea that new words need not present too much difficulty. Students could also follow the story by looking at the illustrations. This approach proved enormously successful; most children in Laos do not have story-books at home so having a story presented to them was a treat that they enjoyed. The whole class could participate to a greater or lesser degree in an unpressurized environment; some students even volunteered to read aloud alone in front of the class. This was a terrific achievement for both the students and their teachers.

Thank you for your continued support. 

With Gratitude, 

GVI Laos

Dear Supporters, 

Every year, GVI Laos organizes a challenge to raise money to support our current and future programs, and this year was no different.From 23- 27 May we hosted our Annual 5am for 5 days Charitable Trust Challenge

The objective of this challenge was for volunteers to commit to waking up at 5am for five days to give Alms to local Monks and Novice Monks. This was done to raise funds to support our education and community programs, including the expansion of our Women’s Empowerment Program, educational sponsorships, infrastructure and basic needs and medical support for our students and the local community.

What is Alms Giving?

It is a tradition practiced by many local Lao people and is characterized by the giving of donations, usually food, to Monks and Novice Monks at approximately 5am every day. Local people kneel respectfully at the side of the road, with a scarf over their left shoulder. Processions of Monks and Novice Monks from local temples pass by carrying their Alms bowls. The locals raise their baskets (commonly filled with sticky rice) to their forehead; blessing their offerings before carefully placing a portion in each Monk or Novice Monk’s Alms bowl as the numerous processions walk by. Lao Buddhists believe that Alms givers gain merit which you take with you into your next life. For Novice Monks, collecting Alms is also vital as Alms are their main source of food.

This May, GVI Laos’s passionate in-country volunteers and staff were sponsored by families, friends, former volunteers,GVI alumni and generous international donors to participate in this traditional practice alongside the local community.

We chose to give Alms at temples where many of our Novice Monk students live. It was wonderful to see their faces light up at the sight of their teachers waiting to give Alms; showing their respect for the local traditions. Each morning, the volunteers sat side-by-side with the local community and received blessings from the Monks and Novice Monks following their donations. On three occasions, volunteers were invited into temple grounds to donate Alms and receive blessings from various Monks and Abbotts (Head Monks).

After 5 days of early rising, the volunteers were exhausted but extremely honoured to have had the opportunity to be immersed in Lao culture while helping to raise funds for our projects in Luang Prabang. A huge thank you to everyone who contributed! With your support, we were able to raise $2000 USD that will allow us to maintain and develop our education and community development programs in Luang Prabang and surrounding areas.

With Gratitude, 

GVI Laos



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Organization Information

Global Vision International Charitable Trust

Location: Exeter, Devon - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Kate Robey
St Albans, Herts United Kingdom

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