Q & A: Meet the staff making change happen in Nga
Achieving the incredible doesn’t happen easily, nor alone: it takes time, investment and support. We’re working hard to create new opportunity in Nga, but it wouldn’t be possible without generous donors like you, or our dedicated staff.
Did you know that 90% of Plan International staff were born and raised in the countries we work in?
These passionate team members work with our Canadian staff at home to combine and amplify their knowledge, skills and experience – creating the most significant impact possible. Their shared insights and diverse perspectives help us reach out to even the most remote communities, like the people of Nga, so we can better understand their specific needs and how to best address them.
Now, take a moment to meet some of the hardworking staff putting your Community Sponsorship donations into action in Nga:
Meet: Justine, Program Manager for Plan International Canada
Justine was born in Ottawa, Canada and grew up in the Netherlands. She’s worked and lived in a range of countries across Africa and Asia.
Meet: Nouy, Project Officer for Plan International Laos.
Nouy grew up in an ethnic Khmu farming family, in a remote village bordering Nga. Because of his background, he really relates to the children and hard-working families in this community and his language skills make it much easier for him to communicate with local people.
What inspires you to work in international development, particularly with Plan International?
Justine: I am constantly inspired by the hard work and dedication of frontline staff who travel long distances over difficult terrains to support the communities Plan International serves.
What has been one of the most impactful experiences from your work?
Justine: I was fortunate to meet with parents at the beginning of a Plan-International-Canada-supported project in the Philippines. They told me about the many challenges their families face. Each time I return and talk to many of the same parents I am so moved to hear how much their situation has improved each year, through our programming. They told me they finally feel their children have a bright future.
Why do you feel Nga, Laos is uniquely in need of assistance?
Justine: Nga is one of the poorest and most disadvantaged communities in Laos. Dropout in the early grades of high school is extremely high, with girls most significantly affected. Girls are often held back from school in order to help look after their younger siblings while their parents work in the fields, and they often face cultural and economic pressures to marry at a young age.
Nouy: In Nga, we know of many children that need help to improve their standard of living. I feel so happy to be a part of this project because I really like helping poor communities and children get access to important services for better lives.
In meeting with the families from Nga, what seemed to be their biggest concern and struggle?
Nouy: Education and understanding [due to language barriers], poverty and also lack of awareness of gender equality.
What do you feel will be the most difficult challenge that lies ahead for you, your team and the people of Nga, as you work towards progress?
Justine: Gender inequality is a key factor in children’s education and health. Plan International will work with parents, caregivers, community leaders and schools to raise awareness about the importance of girls’ education, and break down traditional negative beliefs regarding the role of girls and women in society.
What seems to be Nga families’ most commonly held hope?
Nouy: Based on discussions with them, they want to see their children have brighter futures so they can become employed and earn a salary to take care of their own families. They don’t want their children living in poverty and working in the fields as their parents did and as they are at the moment.
How can Community Sponsorship meet this community’s needs?
Nouy interviews a local family, discussing needs, growth and opportunities.
Nouy: This project is a special one. Many locals will benefit: young children will get an early education, poor students will get scholarships, teachers and principles will have improved skills and capacity and the community will get new basic infrastructure and access to better water resources and services. Together, my team and I will transfer them information they need for what they really want – all while making them feel we are with, and beside them.
How will you and the team help ensure long-term changes can be achieved – even once we leave the community?
Justine: The community is involved throughout the project: they’re consulted at the beginning to ensure activities address their key needs, participate in construction and are responsible for managing activities with support from Plan International and the local government. This creates greater sustainability over time by increasing community ownership. It will fill a key gap in access to education in Nga – well beyond the duration of the project.
What is your favorite thing about Nga, Laos?
Nouy: The community view and natural landscape is very beautiful.
What is the biggest growth opportunity for this community?
Justine: This project will reach rural ethnic minority groups in this geographically isolated and underserved area. It is a new area for us and I am excited that we will be able to bring much needed support.
All made possible by you
You’re uplifting spirits – and an entire community.
Thanks to you, Plan International staff – both here, and abroad – are helping families in Nga overcome barriers and encouraging children to reach for the sky, and soar to exciting, new heights.
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