Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"@yourlibrary" - Luang Prabang

Laos has very few books so it's hardly surprising that there are practically no libraries either.

Tong's photograph of
his local library back home.

The French should be highly ashamed that, during their century of occupation, they set up neither a library system nor, worse, an education system. Mind you, they didn't set up a health system either, but that's for another post.

However, without any libraries, in Luang Prabang there are people who have stepped in to fill the gap:

1) Big Brother Mouse (I'll be doing an individual blog on them later) publishes free books for locals:

Brochure explaining what
Big Brother Mouse
is all about.

2) Ruth runs a book exchange in the laneway next to her Tamnak Lao Restaurant ...

Tamnak Lao Restaurant.

... where you pay US$1.00 to swop books - the money funding the Orphanage - so do it.

3) The French Society runs a free reading room where you find the latest French magazines:

Just LOVE that furniture.

4) A very nice lady who looks like my mum has a reading room/cafe called L'Etranger ...

L'Etranger

.... where you can just sit for hours and read ...

Frida from Norway
reading at L'Estrange.

More about her later.

Upstairs, the room is laid out like an opium den with low sofas where you can flop with a great book. AND they also make a sublime Chai Latte.

5) Carol set up @yourlibrary:

@yourlibrary

This is a free study centre for Lao and, in addition to running a free reading room, Carol sets up all sorts of classes for whatever folk want to learn. Mostly locals come in to learn languages.

Novice monk
studying language.

Since our gorgeous young monk, Tong, (photo in a post below) studied French and English here and speaks both languages exceptionally well, you can see how well these classes work.

They also have books set out where you can study individually on a subject that interests you.

The science section.

The language section.

The place is always full and remains so even late at night.

@yourlibrary
late at night.
Still full and busy.

These are people who desperately want an education.

And the latest thing they want to study is photography. Carol has already taken a group of young Lao, including Tong, through her new photography course and subsequently sent them out to "capture their world", and the results are extraordinary. They are currently on display in an exhibit called "Laos Through Our Own Eyes". Here are a sample:

Mahoot World.

Bushbabies.

Village World.

These photos are titled "Beautiful Ordinary"
but there's nothing ordinary about them.

I love that Carol has done that. It's amazing just how good these kids are and just how beautiful their own worlds are. And it's very special to see into these lives that are just so different than our own.

However, Carol has a problem. She only has four cameras, which were donated and she is extraordinarily grateful for them, but ...

... she says it's a real pain in the bum teaching this class because each of the cameras is so different from the other. This means she has to do special classes on how to use each one and that just absorbs so much time she could be using more effectively elsewhere.

If she had someone, say, donate FOUR IDENTICAL CAMERAS, she could just do a single introductory class and then, later, when the students had been taught all the basics, they could then figure out and adapt what they'd learned to the other cameras.

Good idea, yes?

So, is there anyone out there who'd like to donate FOUR IDENTICAL CAMERAS to @yourlibrary? It's SUCH a worthy cause and Carol is doing so much alone ... so please, please, please?

If you can help out, Carol can be reached at carol.kresge@gmail.com

And if you want to know more about this organisation and about Luang Prabang try reading Marhas' blog which has great links and plenty of tips and information.
http://traveltoluangprabang.blogspot.com/

2 comments:

marhas said...

Thanks for this overview of the libraries. I missed them, when I strolled through Luang Prabang in dedember. I make a link in my blog.

It's our turn said...

Thank you for finding my Vientiane Times article in momobooks notes. I have been independently publishing books for Laos since Sept. 2008 and enjoying the rocky road of marketing throughout the country. Please visit:

www.momobooks.asia
www.momobooks.blogspot.com
http://www.betterplace.org/users/martin_m

Thanks!