December 07

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From quiet Laos

Good morning from one of the quietest place on earth: Laos!

I have been spending the last two weeks at the CARE office in Vientiane helping the team to speed up on communication and supporting them to finalize the next 3 years plan with GSK.
It’s not my first time in this amazing country, listed as one of the poorest one of the world, and I recall it as one with the hugest heart ever.

The GSK project is over and we are going to start a new more exciting phase from January 2016, but I gave my commitment in trying to help them to finalize some of the materials they have been developing so far.

That gave me the opportunity to attend some of the training sessions for garment factory workers and for entertainment workers.

Most of those girls have really low education and some of them are not even able to read or write. Trainers are volunteers selected from Vientiane Universities who wants to do some social work and help some of the local NGO. The curriculum training goes from sexual reproduction health, contraception, worker legal rights, what to do about sexual harassment and violence.
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I had the chance to interview one of them and I was amazed by the passion and commitment of this young lady. She is a social science student who decided to join this local NGO to get involved with garment factory workers training.

She enjoys training them and you can tell by the way she interacts with the girls. Her dream is to be able to implement activities for the children in the rural areas and also to raise awareness of how smoking is bad for health.

This training is done in several factories around Vientiane where working conditions can be different from place to place. The ones I visited they provide food and support women with a good everyday diet, but in many cases women eat a lot of sticky rice, have long hours shifts and even if necessary they don’t seek for health services. Clinics are outside factories and not opened on Sundays, the only day when those girls could go and see nurses. GSK and CARE provide support to some of those realities with mobile clinics as described in my previous blog, but health standards are far from where they should be and factories are booming everywhere.

Other than factories, I went also to see the training held for entertainment workers at beer shops and Karaoke. I don’t want to get into too many details in what I saw or heard, but this represents a great opportunity for CARE to reach women and discuss with them about violence and what they can do to prevent it or to react if abused. I was really impressed by clarity of the training and impressed when the volunteers explained that violence is not only physical, but when they are abused verbally, when they are robbed of their money or when they feel abused emotionally.
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A 60 days campaign against women was launched at the end of November and big events were held in different locations to raise the awareness of how violence is unacceptable and men social behaviors should change.

See you soon

Simona