Establish on 13 Dec 2007, Seuang River educational travel programme, is a cooperative-business partnership between the villagers and Buffalo Tours under the auspices of the Luang Prabang Provincial Tourism Department and Pak Xeng District Authority. Tasked with sustainable and responsible tourism development the partnership has grown from 11 villages to 35 villages!
The people of Seuang River are a mix of lowland Lao, upland Khamu and highland Hmong ethnic groups. Each have distinct language and culture. Many have migrated down from high mountain villages to the river valley to be ‘on-road’ for better health, education, communication and market access. The result is most villages are now a mix of various ethnic groups.
During the past ten years our visiting school and university groups have taken an active role in village life. Going well beyond meaningful service learning opportunities, there are opportunities to create exchanges with local schools, plenty of outdoor education activities, and of course the traditional crafts, dance and food. Every programme provides a clear understanding of social, educational and health related issues facing rural people in northern Laos.
Partnerships between our visiting schools and universities and the Seuang River communities, have generated almost $500,000 in direct financial benefit since 2007. This includes employment for cooks, guides, traditional crafts & dance, local teachers and health care workers. Village Stay accommodations and food also are a major source of the income.
The community development projects also had great impact. Over 24 community projects and dozens of community health educations projects have been successfully completed with a total budget of $379, 726USD. These include:
- Hua Keng Village community water supply storage tank (2008)
- Hua Keng Village housing project (2008)
- Hat Sang Kindergarten project (2008)
- Napho Village Community Hall project (2009)
- Huay Pho Village Elementary School building project (2009)
- Po Nowan Village Food Security / Bridge Project (2010)
- Pak Keng Junior High School Renovation project (2011)
- Sop Jak High School Sanitation project (2011)
- Sop Jak High School Electrification project (2011)
- Sop Jak Community Health Clinic Toilet & Water Supply (2012)
- Sop Jak High School Dormitory project (2012)
- Po Nowan Village kindergarten project (2013)
- Po Nowan Village Kindergarten toilet project (2013)
- Sop Jak Community Water Supply project (2014)
- Sop Jak High School Dormitory II project (2014)
- Pak Keng High School Renovation I, II, III project (2014)
- Pak Keng High School Renovation IV, V project (2015)
- Huay Pho Village Community Meeting Hall (2015)
- Vang Ngern Village Community Water Supply Project (2016)
- Pak Xeng High School 5 Classroom Building project (2017)
- Pak Xeng High School Sanitation Project (2018)
Throughout these ten years Chipseng Thor has been the heart-and-soul of Seuang River. An inspiring leader, with a truly amazing life story, Chipseng has managed the creation and development of the Seaung River community programme. He is ready to start a new chapter in his life and will move on to new challenges and opportunities. We are deeply grateful to Chipseng for all he has taught, his passion and strength. Though we will miss him greatly, his connection with the communities and our programme remain strong. His friendship continues and his legacy is being passed on to his successor Somchan Vanhnaseng.