„Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.“
Reading Elephant Laos mobile children’s library has been initiated and implemented as a so-called grass roots project by a group of young Laotians from Ban Houayxay, Bokeo province. Founded in the autumn of 2015, the group set itself the goal of promoting reading and access to literature among children and adolescents in their native province. By 2016, the group had already gained their initial experiences with events in local village schools. The event concept was presented within the framework of an internship to the district school authorities, and was duly approved by them. From this Reading Elephant Laos developed the concept for the book festival, which introduces the outreach activities of the mobile children’s library. In addition to the reading room and book sales, this will be the focus of their work in the future. Given the majority of children in Laos still live in remote villages, they rarely have access to the kinds of educational offerings available in urban areas. Hence, the aim of the initiative is to regularly bring reading books from its reading room in the provincial capital to children in the villages. To this end, it has developed various approaches.
In order to develop its mobile children’s library as well as various events and educational opportunities, Reading Elephant Laos requires every possible form of financial and logistical support.
- Khamkeo Vongsavanh (Keo)
is the founder and project manager of Reading Elephant Laos. He works full-time in the project. Khamkeo was born in the village of Numpouk, Bokeo province, where his father Bounthong was the director at the local primary school. This marked his early years of education and made him keenly aware of the need to promote reading and education in his country. During and after his studies in Luang Prabang, he gained a great deal of experience by working with the children’s book publisher Big Brother Mouse in how to organise and implement book festivals as well as about book design and book sales. Khamkeo has written several children’s books. Beside leading the library project he is the first book dealer in Bokeo province ever.
- Phaivanh Philainthavong (Touy)
is a permanent project member at Reading Elephant Laos. Born in a village in Luang Prabang province, Touy is responsible for the organisation of the library stock, the book lending and is actively involved in the preparation and implementation of the village book festivals. He trained as a Mathematics and English teacher and completed his degree in Basic English at the Visoun English Center. Phaivanh enjoys working with children and is a very talented motivator. He likes to read himself a lot and has a great gift for inspiring students to read. In our reading room he offers coaching lessons in Mathematics.
- Huk Malaisuk
Huk is a permanent project member at Reading Elephant Laos since February 2019. She was born and raised in the village of Phonxay, Xayaboury province. Huk studied at Luang Prabang Teacher Training College and graduated in 2015. She enjoys working with children very much. She joined our team to work with students in the reading room and as a librarian as well for attending travelers in our bookshop.
- Patithin Phetmeuangphuan
is a part time project assistant for Reading Elephant Laos. He comes from the village of Nontae in the province of Vientiane, and completed a teaching degree at the English Department at the National University of Laos. Currently a journalist, Patithin lives in Vientiane. He works on a fee basis in the planning and evaluation of project activities, maintains contacts with partners and supporters, and represents Reading Elephant Laos at official events in the capital. During his stays in Bokeo, he supports the team in the reading room, or as an educator at the book festivals.
- Mai Chayee Thao
Mai is a volunteer member at Reading Elephant Laos. He is working for 12 years already as a teacher of English at a private college in Ban Houayxay. Mai graduated as a Bachelor in English at Dong Dok National University of Laos (NUOL) in Vientiane. As well he finished with a Diploma in Business Management at Sengsavanh College. During his study, he supported some Hmong villages by teaching basic English and mathematics to small kids. Mai is from a remote Hmong village in Pha Ou Dom district, Bokeo. He particularily supports us in Hmong village schools by sensitizing children for books and stories in their mother tongue since he speaks the Hmong language. In our reading room he offers coaching and courses in English for different levels.
- Bounthong Vongsavanh
is a senior consultant at Reading Elephant Laos. Like his son Khamkeo, he came from the village of Ban Numpouk in Bokeo and grew up there. During his childhood years there were no kindergartens or pre-schools in Laos. He finished secondary school in 1977 and got the chance to continue his studies at secondary level II. Teachers at his school greatly encouraged Bounthong and he ultimately decided to become a teacher himself. He graduated from the Teacher Training College in Luang Namtha and subsequently returned to his home village Ban Numpouk as school principle. He retired at the end of 2018 and now supports intensively the work of Reading Elephant Laos.
English conversation with Lao students (walk-in volunteering)
Young people in Laos do not have many opportunities to improve their English language skills through travel or exchange studies. Most of them have learned English from Lao teachers, who themselves have few experience in conversation or pronunciation. Lao students are eager to learn and improve their skills. Travelers can practice light conversation daily with young Lao students in the reading room. The English chat starts daily at 5pm (except on Saturdays and Sundays).
Voluntary work of foreign visitors
First of all: Reading Elephant Laos is not looking for free employees! The project team offers dedicated and motivated people the opportunity to spend more time at the project to learn more about the lives of young people and the educational situation. In particular, they can help students improve their English language skills through direct conversation, educational games or small lessons, and support the work of our mobile children’s library. Sometimes there is the opportunity to accompany the team at book festivals in remote village primary schools. At the same time, they can inform other visitors about the project if necessary. So volunteering is an enrichment for both sides.
Children and young people are at risk in many countries around the world. In developing countries they often constitute the majority of the population. Poverty or unstable governance structures increase their risk of disadvantage and discrimination and limit their ability to exercise their fundamental rights. Reading Elephant Laos and its supporters are intent on strengthening children’s rights, thus enabling them to participate in education and protecting them from potential dangers.
Reading Elephant Laos and its partners are committed through their work to strengthen the rights of children and young people and to protect them from abuse, maltreatment, and exploitation. Their common objective and aspiration is to create a safe environment for children where their rights are respected. This applies equally to all children participating in activities sponsored by our partners and us.
Declaration of Commitment
Reading Elephant Laos and its partners jointly commit themselves to ensuring the protection of children and young people; the creation of safe spaces in which to learn and grow is a guiding principle of our work.
We are committed to:
1: Empower both girls and boys, with and without disabilities, in their rights, and protect them from sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, exploitation, and neglect.
2: Create a safe environment for children and vulnerable persons, and one in which compliance with children’s and human rights are ensured.
3: Involve children in decision-making measures that impact them, and to take their interests into account whenever planning and implementing activities.
4: Create awareness within our organization and amongst our partners, and to raise awareness about the issue.
5: Develop and implement the use of appropriate instruments, including clearly defined responsibilities and procedures in the fields of prevention, crisis management, and monitoring.
6: Ensure that the dignity of the child is always respected in our press, education, and public relations work.
7: Raise awareness about these issues among decision-makers in the political and business worlds as well as in the networks.
Books for Laos e. V. is a non-profit, non-religious, and politically independent association recognized as a non-profit organization in Germany. Its stated objective is primarily to support Reading Elephant Laos in providing underprivileged children and adolescents in remote rural districts of Laos with access to books, and thereby with enduring access to educational resources in order to increase their literacy and learning skills. Books for Laos e. V. is not active in Laos, but rather supports Reading Elephant Laos in it efforts by means of donations and counsel. Books for Laos e. V. is the editor of this website.
We would like to thank all recurring and first-time donors who supported us financially from the beginning until today and continue to support us.
We would especially like to thank the Stiftung Nord-Süd-Brücken and Books for Laos e. V. from Germany, which in 2018 made it possible with their donations to open and operate the reading room in Ban Houayxay, purchase books and hold twelve book festivals.
We are very pleased that the Georg Kraus Stiftung and Books for Laos e. V. from Germany are participating in the project phase “Planning and trial operation for the use of a bookmobile for children in Laos” since 2019 as part of a project cooperation. In particular, the purchase of a used vehicle as well as the test phase for the operation in the target area can be financed jointly. With this help we want to be able to reach all 68 primary schools in the district regularly with our bookmobile.
Thanks are due to the German Embassy in Vientiane, which has committed to Reading Elephant Laos from its micro-project fund to finance additional story and textbooks for the mobile library as well as installations to expand the offerings in the reading room and for the project organisation. The funds were solemnly handed over to the project team in October 2019 by Ambassador Jens Lütkenherm, who personally visited our reading room in Ban Houayxay in May 2019.
We receive a lot of encouragement, advice and practical help from friendly organizations, companies and individuals in Laos and other countries. We would like to thank them at this point!
Expand list of supporters (coming soon)
Reading Elephant Laos
c/o Khamkeo Vongsavanh
Khunjing Road, Ban Moungkhounsin, Houayxay District, Bokeo Province, Lao P. D. R.
Tel: +856 (0) 20 59515550; Reading Room: +856 (0) 20 59667817
For any queries you may have concerning Reading Elephant Laos project, please contact us by email.