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Good Morning, Vai

Vai, a 12-year-old child, lives in the remote and mountainous area of north-western Laos. Belonging to the Khmu ethnic group, Vai is learning about hygiene and attending regular classes at her Plan International supported school.

Vai from Khmu ethnic group of Laos
Vai, an 11 year old girl from Khmu community, always practices her personal hygiene after joined the school hygiene promotion programme that Plan International Laos demonstrates in her community

A daily task

Like she does every morning, Vai wakes up at 5am, just before the sun appears from behind the lush, green mountains that surround her village. She climbs down the stairs of her one-room bamboo hut in which she lives in with her parents and siblings. Just outside the house she fetches some fresh water from the tap-operated supply. Her family uses it for drinking, washing their hands and cooking rice. Conscious of the time, she moves quickly, getting everything ready before her parents go off to work in the rice field and before going to school. She’s careful not to carry too much water, so it doesn’t hurt her shoulders and she can carry it back inside to soak the rice. Once soaked, she piles the rice into a steamer on a small fire. Flumes of steam pour out of the steamer, a stunning image for anyone new to the morning ritual – for Vai, it’s just a usual morning. She turns around and says, “My mother taught me how to make sticky rice. She is very good at it.” Her mother, sitting in the corner, watching, proudly nods her head.

Vai, a Khmu girl from Laos, is on her daily task - fetching water from Plan International supported water system
Vai, a Khmu girl from Laos, is on her daily task - fetching water from Plan International supported water system in her community

Education and sanitation is always necessary for children

Joining Plan International’s activities means a world of difference for Vai. She receives important education and sanitation information which connects a world outside her own. But the information means so much more than hearing words and seeing demonstration by Plan International’s staff. Thanks to the support of generous people that donate to her community, she is learning about hygiene at school – things like washing her hands properly before and after eating food; brushing her teeth and washing her face. She has been given materials to help her learn like pens, a school bag, and a water bottle which she can fill up before class. She’s even learnt a song about hygiene, which she loves so much. She has even written it out on a big piece of paper and stuck it up on her wall at home. She sings it with a beautiful and quiet voice that fills the room. The sun has finally risen, painting pink and purple streaks across the sky.

Vai, Khmu girl from Laos
Vai has written information of sanitation and hygiene and education out on a big piece of paper and stuck it up on her wall at home


Vai is ready for school.

I always visit the toilet, wash my hands with soap, wash my clothes, take a bath, brush my teeth, wash my hair, clean my house, and wash dishes and keep the environment clean.


Vai, Khmu girl from Laos
Vai and her friend, after finishing housework, walk to school at her community

Other school children in Vai’s village also receive the same information and materials from donors all around the world through Plan International. Thanks to their support, all children and their families benefit from projects that improve quality of education, water and sanitation.

Vai knows she needs to focus on schoolwork to achieve her dreams. “I want to be a teacher,” she says. She would like to teach other students the hygiene song and help her community.

You can support children in Laos and help entire communities lift themselves out of poverty through Plan International.