Organization: Project Kajsiab & Daauw Home
On May 2nd, our team of nine packed their bags for two days of plane rides that would bring us to Chiang Rai, Thailand. After checking into our charming hostel, we ate at the night market in Chiang Rai, and treated ourselves to a Thai massage after our long travel time! The next day, we saw the sights; the White Temple, and Singha Park where we got to feed giraffes and zebras!
After our fun day of sightseeing, we were picked up the next morning by Nzoua and Bounchan, representatives of Project Kajsiab, the next morning who would drive us over the border into Laos, and to the project site.
When we arrived, the team was greeted by an adorable cluster of bungalows with quotes written everywhere and photos all over the walls. Here, over the team’s soon to be favourite ‘lemon juice’ did our NGO rep, Lara explain what they do in detail at Project Kajsiab. The Daauw Home, where we were hosted, was founded by Project Kajsiab, and it is a guest house for travellers that is completely run by local Hmong mountain women. Many of the women have left abusive relationships, are divorced or are widowed and many of them married very young and when they did not have their husbands anymore, felt they didn’t have the skills or the confidence to support themselves and their children. This is when the Daauw Home comes in. They arrive, and are able to find employment, they support one another in their growth and then once they feel ready, eventually leave where they then go to open their own businesses, or start new families. Focused around women’s empowerment, the Daauw Home executes a number of different projects, and even provides grants for local businesses and organizations in need.
ASB’s main project was funding the construction of another shelter building named “the volunteer house”, and funding the construction of much needed latrines at a nearby school for 800 students sharing one bathroom. On top of this, the team was to do odd jobs around the property such as cleaning, painting, advertising the restaurant and homestay in the local town, helping out in the kitchen and helping the women and children practice their English. In our spare time, we went swimming with the Daauw Home team, walked around in Huay Xai and played soccer!
Although it tried, the sweltering heat did not stop us. Powering through, the team did a thorough clean of the grounds, and helped to finish the construction of the volunteer house which we then moved into as the very first residents! Amongst all this, we took a few day trip to visit Baauw, a woman who had come to the Daauw Home 3 years prior seeking help, and has since left, and is opening her very own homestay with her new husband and twins. The team also got to stay at her home for a night and in doing so supply her with the money to be able to install electricity for future guests. It was incredible to see her happiness and confidence and see the outcome of Project Kajsiab’s efforts first hand!
For our weekend excursion, Team Laos was able to go on The Gibbon Experience, a 2 night stay in the Laotian jungle where you get to zipline around and live in the world’s tallest treehouses. The team had a fantastic time that weekend and were lucky enough to see the gibbon monkeys 200ft from our own treehouse!
Our final days at the Daauw Home were spent cherishing every moment with our new friends; doing science experiments with the kids and the local ladies dressed us up in the their cultural dress and were very excited about taking photos of it! We did a performance on our very last night, and were able to leave with the news that the latrines we funded were finished successfully, and the project was even featured in the local news! As we left to spend one last day in Thailand before departure, the quote we left on our wall of the Daauw Home surrounded by our handprints and the handprints of the locals seemed more true than ever.
“You will never be completely at home again. That is the richness that comes from knowing and loving people in more than one place”. We will always be grateful for this experience, as Team Laos went in as a group of people going on a trip together, and we came out as a family.
Kaupjai Project Kajsiab and Daauw Home!