150km north of Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, you will find the quaint town of Vang Vieng which sits within a breathtaking and mesmerising location – it’s no surprise that this town has become a hot destination on the tourist and backpacker trail. The town is completely surrounded by limestone cliffs, at the foot of which you can find the town’s most famous natural resource – the idyllic Nam Song river. Tourists and locals alike gather here for kayaking or tubing – and you can hop off your chosen river transport and explore the numerous caves that Vang Vieng boasts. The town, which still manages to maintain a peaceful lifestyle, despite its popularity, also has several lagoons which are every bit as exotic as you’d expect.
But for those wanting to also make a positive difference to the area, Frontier’s Laos Volunteer Adventure makes the most of the beautiful surrounding while getting volunteers involved in work that greatly benefits the local community.
The project has one clear and precise goal – the sustainable development of the community. This is reflected in the project itself uses environmentally friendly building methods and farming practices (bio-gas, permaculture, and mud-brick), which will all assist in encouraging sustainable future development and will help preserve the natural environment for future generations.
Teaching for the future
The activities that volunteers get involved with on a daily basis are teaching, sustainable building, organic farming, bio-gas technology, water supply, and waste management. Teaching is valuable tool in terms of creating awareness and will help change the way that future generations approach sustainable development and farming. Volunteers on the project can make a real difference in the way the community flourishes by teaching (as creatively as possible) the importance of sustainability. Teaching English to young and enthusiastic children and young adults at the projects community centre is also conducted on a daily basis, which is important for their further education.
An emphasis is put upon the ideals and practises of organic farming within the community. An important part of the project is to tend to the various crops of fruit and vegetables that are grown naturally in the fertile soil found on site. Tasks will also include replanting and harvesting when necessary, and volunteers will of course get to enjoy the fruits of their labour by eating the produce during meals! Bio-Gas technology is something that the project is currently setting up, and it is hoped that in the future all of the local homes will use this form of technology for energy; it decreases the use of firewood and generates natural fertiliser that can be used as part of the organic farming programme.
Click here to find out more about the Laos Adventure Volunteer project.
Be aware that… Accommodation is clean and comfortable, but sleeping arrangements are shared dormitory-style.
- Grassroots, authentic volunteering experience
- Long-term and sustainable green development
About the author: Ellie Cambridge works for Frontier, an NGO dedicated to safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystem integrity, and building sustainable livelihoods for marginalised communities in the world’s poorest countries. Find out more about Frontier’s volunteer projects, ethical adventure trails and gap year planning.