Hard work pays off
How a teacher helping change Pha Oudom district witnesses positive changes in targeted village.
Raising a child requires a significant amount of support from their parents and families. Nurturing care in the early years promotes a child's optimal development and lays the groundwork for later learning and productivity in adulthood.
This is how Ounkeo Keophachanh, a primary school teacher in Bokeo province's Pha Oudom district, is participating in Love and Care for Every Child (LCEC) to help parents gain knowledge and skills in nurturing caregiving for their young children.
When Ounkeo learned about the LCEC program, he was eager to participate in order to help children in the district. Along with his full-time job as a teacher, he is now one of its trainers, passing on this knowledge and tools to communities in his district.
When I first heard that the program's goal was to raise awareness about childcare, I assumed it would be simple. However, there have been numerous challenges, including difficulties in collecting data about target villages due to limited transportation infrastructure and inclement weather, as well as language barriers with ethnic language-speaking villagers.
Ounkeo never gives up in the face of adversity and always acts with a strong desire to improve the lives of the children in his community.
"Sometimes what you hear from ten people is not the same as what you see with your own eyes," says Ounkeo
Currently, Ounkeo, along with other trainers, is participating in a training organized by UNICEF, the Lao Women's Union, and the Lao National Development Front to further learn about online data collection for the LCEC program. The training aims to provide an overview of the programme's online data collection system, especially using smart phones.
"The use of technology improves monitoring and evaluation activities of the programme, and the use of smart phones makes information sharing easier. Before, we had to ride a motorcycle from the village to the local office of the Women's union to share data, but now we can do it with our smartphones.
"In addition, communication with trainers is now easier and faster. If I don't understand something, I can ask the expert directly," explained Ounkeo. “I learnt a lot from this training,” he added.
Six months have passed since the program was implemented in Pha Oudom, and already some changes can be seen.
“Before, we used to see parents leaving their children at home to go to the fields. Now, while the parents are away, there is always a family member or community member to take care of them," says Ounkeo
He also notes that other aspects of parenting, such as hygiene, have also improved, and that many families now actively practice hand washing with soap, whereas before there were no hand washing facilities.
This program is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP)