Interview: The Wet One
Bad Boss: Like A Bastard
Unions: Demolition Derby
Corporate: The Bush Doctrine
Politics: American Jihad
Health: Secret Country
Review: Walking On Water
Poetry: The UQ Stonewall
Month In Review
The Locker Room
The Legacy of 11/9
The CFMEU Race Debate #2
Keeping it Clean
Sue the Leaders?
Wrong Way, Go Back
Shame on Murray
Use or Abuse of Long Term Casuals
Speaking in Tongues
Hello from soggy Vientiane!!
Yes, it's the middle of the wet season - and a very wet one it has been - sorry all those of you in drought in Australia but the Mekong River recently reached its highest level since 1966. Thanks to very high levy banks around the city, only outer villages were flooded.
Wow September already!! Since I last wrote things have developed pretty well with all 3 local partners now having commenced their parts of the project.
In Vientiane, the Women's Union branch has completed the first set of 4 month courses in tailoring and hairdressing (27 trainees completing study) and in July opened the next 2 courses.
The evaluation of the first courses suggested some good ideas for improvement for future courses - one being additional support to the trainers. Union Aid Abroad organized with the Ministry of Education a 7 day intensive training of trainers in teaching method to help the new teachers understand better adult learning principles, lesson planning and classroom practice. This was the first of a series of trainings that all trainers in the program will receive over the next 2 years. A great success it was - and trainers have incorporated lessons from this and the Cambodia study tour in this next set of courses.
The construction is also almost complete for the new Hasaifong training centre. We have had to bargain, argue and plead to stretch the funding as far as possible - and we are almost there. So the building is finished but we are still scrounging for additional funds for painting, a perimeter fence and some equipment for the centre. I will let you know how we got on next postcard!! Anyway the Buddhist cleansing ceremony has just happened today and the big formal opening is due in November when training will start.
The Luang Pabang Province Women's Union located in the North of the country is also gearing up. In July we signed their first contract - to build 2 training rooms. They also will open the first tailoring course in November. The Province is putting in 25% of the funding for this first phase which is an indication of the priority they have for this type of project.
The third partner is the Lao Women's Union National Training Centre and they too have been busy re-designing what they want to do given the experience of Cambodia. For them the main interest is food processing - to train women and men in new ways of preserving, processing and cooking foods to both improve nutrition in families and income through selling excess supplies. To help the Training Centre develop its own group of trainers we have supported a series of train the trainer programs bringing in other institutions run through the Ministry if Education to assist. The Thai Embassy is supporting the project next week by bringing 11 trainers from Northern Thailand to conduct a 3 day train the trainer for the Lao Women's Union.
Other project gossip - an Australian TAFE teacher, Ms Shamsa Sadiq arrived last week from Perth to begin work on upgrading curriculum for the tailoring courses and help train teachers. Shamsa will also be assisting the Cambodia program in the same area.
Coming up - October/November is the next trainnig of trainers in teaching method and the opening of the 2 new centres - I'll keep you posted!!
The Union Aid Abroad Lao office (a room within the Vientiane Women's Union Building) now has 3 staff with the commencement in August of the new Project Manager Mr Khampasong. He comes to the project with many years experience as Training Co-ordinator for other international NGOs. Also after a long wait we now have project vehicles - 1 car and 2 motorbikes - just in time for the wet season!
Stop Press - Cultural Highlight
Speaking of the car arriving - a great cultural highlight of recent months was the traditional custom of the blessing of the car at the local Wat here in Vientiane. It's very important here to have a monk or village elder undertake a ceremony (called Baci) on special occasions to wish good luck, protection and safety.
On arrival of the car a lucky day on the calendar was chosen to visit the Wat designated here for vehicle blessings. We brought all those who will be driving the car, offerings in the way of drinks and food for the monk, flowers, a special bowl filled with scented water and special very long thin candles. Upstairs in the wooden hut beside the temple we climbed up to enter his room, deliver the offerings and set to in preparation. This involved taking the long thin pliable candles - and for each person present, measuring the length of their chin to waist, elbow to fingertips, distance around their head - and cutting candles off at exactly those lengths. When this is done for all those present then all candles are rolled together into one - lit - and placed over the bowl with the scented water. At the same time a ball of thick cotton is wound around the offerings, us, the monk and then through the window down around the car!! With all connected then the chanting and general delivering of luck and good will to the new car and all who travel in it begins.
Postscript - seems to be working so far...
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA's Lao vocational project 2001-2004 is supported by AusAID and matching donations from Australian unions and individual supporters.
You can support this work in Laos by becoming a donor.
For more information please contact Alison Tate on:
(02) 9264 9343 or via Email on [email protected]
+ pic: HIV/AIDS prevention for tailoring trainees - breaking the ice with condoms!
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