Laos is enclosed between its big neighbors Thailand and Vietnam and you can therefore quickly see past it. Laos is completely landlocked with no coastline with about 7 million inhabitants. The country is rarely in the news and is largely separated from various Western influences. Thanks to its culture and traditions, friendly people and beautiful nature, Laos is becoming more and more popular.
The Laotian government recognizes the importance of developing the economy away from an agricultural culture and in recent years Laos has made steady progress in reducing poverty. The growth cannot be compared with that of its neighbors Thailand and Vietnam, the Laotian growth is mainly progressing thanks to mining. Tourism also contributes to growth and ensures that the country looks beyond its economic borders and thus also gets rid of its political isolation. Laos joined ASEAN (similar to EU) in 2007 and has strengthened relations with China and Vietnam. Foreign aid from NGOs and bilateral agreements have made small progress in communications, transport, infrastructure, education and health.
Despite all this, Laos still remains one of the poorest countries in the world. The majority of the population is still farmers. The education system is poorly developed and health care is still substandard. Child mortality is among the highest in the region and many residents have difficulty accessing drinking water. Despite the fact that basic health care is spread across the country, there are still problems in the field of malnutrition, dengue fever (dengue), malaria, etc. The spread of HIV is limited, but with neighbors such as Cambodia and Thailand this is still a threat.
Destruction of natural resources is another problem. Until the 40s, 70% of the country was covered by jungle, but that figure has fallen below 40%.
Laos is a one-party state led by the Communist Party (LPRP). Despite minor differences within the party in terms of economic reform, democratic change and foreign relations, the party remains united in its strong control over all parts of both government and society. Apart from the Hmong population, who largely live in the mountainous areas in the north, opposition mainly comes from abroad.
Only 34% of the population lives in urban areas. The majority of the population lives in rural areas. Even the most urbanized areas, including the capital Vientiane, feel rural.
The population consists of 49 different ethnic groups. 55% of the population is Lao; 11% Khmu and 8% Hmong. spannThere are mainly between the government and the Hmong population. this spanning descends from the Vietnam War when the Hmong fought alongside the CIA during the secret war in Laos. After the lost warlucWent a lot to Thailand or the west. The war still weighs on the relations between the various parties and the Hmong situation is controversial and taboo in Laos.
Despite human rights laws, abuse is widespread because there is nothing legal to do against government actions. Justice, like the rest of society, falls under the control of the government. This makes it particularly difficult to speak of transparency in court cases. The media is controlled by the government and is also used as a political banner, freedom of the press is not tolerated. Human Rights Watch has repeatedly expressed concern about the Hmong vlucpeople who have been repatriated from Thailand to Laos and are being held in camps against their will.
The expansion of mining, hydroelectric power, plantations, industry and poor sanitation all contribute to the deforestation of the country. Erosion, the pollution of rivers and lakes, hunting and illegal timber trade leave their marks. Laos is also regularly the victim of flooding, leaving it dependent on foreign aid.
As a volunteer you travel to the breathtaking Vang Vieng between Vientiane and Luang Prabang.
Vang Vieng embodies the enormous potential of Laos. With breathtaking scenery and fertile soil, Vang Vieng maintains its agricultural culture while presenting itself as an international tourist destination. Vang Vieng is a district with about 25.000 inhabitants. The number of tourists visiting Vang Vieng is growing every year. The local government has taken steps to manage this growth for the benefit of the poor and conservation and with respect for the environment. The government has wanted to implement a master plan for sustainable development of the district. Despite all this, limited resources and high poverty mean that the challenges remain. While small-scale tourism has huge potential to reduce poverty, the majority of residents are currently not taking advantage of tourism growth.
Tourism in Vang Vieng also has a negative impact on the environment. The extra pollution caused by tourism in the rivers and surroundings cannot be underestimated. Wastewater from domestic use such as washing dishes and bathing simply flows into the river. Not only large but also small companies contribute to polluting the environment. Pollution can have serious consequences not only for the environment but also for the economy, food safety and health of local communities. Children playing among the waste and soil pollution can have an impact on the food supply. Polluting the rivers that the locals rely on for bathing, cooking and ceremonies threatens the traditional way of life.
You can choose which project you want to do when you sign up as a volunteer. All tasks are in the same location, it's a "team" in which you volunteer to complete something big. Therefore, we hope that you will be flexible to achieve this goal. We try to take your wishes into account, but in Laos everything can suddenly change (for example: spontaneous local parties, public holidays, ...).
The projects below are just general data. It is impossible to give exact details about your work. Remember that you are going to work as a volunteer in Laos where everything can change in a few hours. Being flexible is a good quality for a volunteer. Again, you are there to serve the project and not the other way around. We expect you to participate where necessary, even if this is not in the project you thought you would help. Our local partner knows best where you can be deployed at that moment in the most efficient way. For example: it makes no sense to teach English with 3 people while there is a lot of work elsewhere, every task has its value. So don't ask us to provide an aligned program. Also keep in mind that you may be performing a combination of tasks.
We expect our volunteers to be able to work independently. Remember that you can't always rely on the local people every second of the day. You go to Laos to help them, it's not the other way around.
You will stay in our own rented volunteer house. The rooms accommodate a maximum of two volunteers and each has its own bathroom (whether or not adjacent to the room). We have two "single rooms" and three "double/twin rooms" depending on availability, couples in Laos can also go, be sure to report this when applying.
The bathrooms have a western toilet, sink, mirror and shower with hot water. Keep in mind that at the end of the rainy season (April-May) water can be scarce in Vang Vieng and we are sometimes without water. Every bathroom has a water reservoir, but be careful with this water in times of scarcity. Sheets and towels are included, but they must be kept inside. For trips you must bring your own towel.
All rooms have fans, windows and sockets (European plugs fit). There is an emergency telephone and wireless internet. Drinking water, coffee and tea are available in the kitchen.
The building is located a 5-minute walk from the center of Vang Vieng where you will find plenty of cafes, restaurants and other activities.
Meals In Our Volunteer House
The Laotian cuisine is unique, very tasty, you can be sure that you can eat very well during your stay. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served every day. Our cook prepares a wide range of dishes for the volunteers.
Laotians use the proverb: “eating alone is not good”. That's why we encourage all volunteers to eat together. If you have trouble sitting on the floor, no problem. We also have a table with chairs in the volunteer house.
You usually eat in the volunteer house, but you may occasionally eat on the move.
Volunteering in Laos is much more than just working. You cannot compare volunteering to a full-time job. You have enough time to discover the area together with other volunteers and you also have a say in your hours.
Vang Vieng is surrounded by a karst mountain range with rivers and streams. There are countless caves and rice fields to discover. Nearby lagoons provide the opportunity for a refreshing swim. Volunteers and trainees can participate in typical tourist activities in the area such as: kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking, …. There is a quiet atmosphere in the center of Vang Vieng. There are plenty of restaurants and bars with Laotian and Western food and you can visit a temple. Outside of this there are colorful openluchtmarkwhere you can mingle with the locals.
Ask the local team where you can go. They also have a map of the area.
Volunteering abroad comes at a cost and it is not the intention that the community you will help have to pay for it. If there were sufficient budgets to cover these costs, we would spend it on a local employee who knows the local culture and daily customs. If you want to know more about our transparent system, take a look at the transparency page.
These costs, which you pay on site, are specific to your stay, such as your accommodation and meals. Through payable locally you are also sure that your contribution will go directly to the person who organizes it and will not be left behind at various “intermediate stations”.
Note: these costs are only for individual volunteer work. For group projects, different prices apply depending on various factors
The cost of the volunteer house is only €105 per week. You will also be able to enjoy various extra benefits during volunteering. Because the Laotian currency is not stable, you are asked to bring US Dollars to pay part of the accommodation costs. This way we can keep your stay affordable. More details during your preparation.
We want to ensure that there is sufficient influx of volunteers to keep each project viable. After all, many projects require continuity from volunteers in order for the project to succeed or to create sufficient impact. Unfortunately, marketing and raising volunteers costs a lot of money. The budgets that the participating organizations collect during recruitment campaigns are used to develop projects in the south for the benefit of the local population and we therefore do not want to address these funds for marketing campaigns.
The membership fee serves to cover the costs of our volunteer platform. We ask each participant for a one-time contribution of €130. This is only the first time volunteering and only after you have been accepted. After payment of this contribution, you can do unlimited volunteer work in the future at any project (if there is room and you meet the requirements of course).
As soon as you are a member, we will inform you as soon as new projects are added to our alliance.
What is your connection fee used for?
You can read all about the possible costs on our transparency page.
We will of course not let you leave without thorough preparation and guidance. With Volunteer Abroad Allliance we have developed a system that ensures that you can sleep soundly and leave with peace of mind for your volunteer work abroad. As soon as you have been accepted and everything has been arranged, you can count on the guidance of our experts.
Once you are registered and accepted for your project, your preparation can begin. You already get a lot to read on the website, but you can also prepare for your trip in other ways. Once you have arrived, you can also count on the guidance of our local team.
Volunteering will have an impact on you and on the local population. We think it is very important to create awareness for you as a volunteer, so that you can optimally prepare for what awaits you as a volunteer. That is why you will receive the login codes for the project page after acceptance as a volunteer. Here you will find information that is important to you as a volunteer for your preparation. You can read everything about your project, accommodation, instructions for a visa application, a packing list, cultural advice for your country and much more…
Our experienced mentor will contact you and will help you with advice and answers to the questions you have. Your mentor is a member of an organization that is part of our alliance and has been working with fundraising for the project you are traveling to for years, so you can speak of a real specialist. Our mentors are members of our alliance and have years of experience in the projects. This system ensures that you receive 100% expert guidance from VAA.