VESA’s humanitarian and conservation projects aim to provide direct action support to communities in parts of the world overlooked by traditional charities and aid organisations.Learn more
The Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Laos is located in the centre of Indochina, sharing its borders with China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Laos’s terrain is dominated by rough mountains and steep cliffs, and the mighty Mekong River runs through much of the country, providing a backdrop for some of the most stunning natural landscapes and picturesque villages in Southeast Asia.
The Mekong River is the main geographical feature in Laos’s west and forms a natural border with Thailand in some areas. The Mekong flows through nearly 1,900 kilometres of Lao territory and shapes much of the Lao lifestyle. In the south near the Cambodian border, the Mekong spans a breadth of twenty kilometres and has over time formed the ‘Four Thousand Islands’ or Si Phan Don region, consisting of lots of tiny islands – some too tiny for roads. Laos has a population of 6.8 million people, made up of different 49 ethnic groups and four main languages. Lao people are open and friendly, and they possess a strongly developed sense of courtesy and respect. Buddhism is an inherent feature of daily life and casts a strong influence on Lao society. In fact, it is a cultural expectation that every Lao man will become a monk for at least a short time in his life. Lao women can be seen each morning at sunrise giving alms to monks, a tradition that dates back to the 14th century but is still practiced in Luang Prabang.
The Centre was launched in association with conservation organisation ElefantAsia. The NGO has been working towards the protection of elephants in Laos for over 12 years, running welfare, vet care, breeding and mahout (elephant carer) training programs. The Asian elephant, sacred national emblem of Laos, is under serious threat of extinction. If immediate action is not taken, the Lane Xang or ‘Land of a Million Elephants’ stands to lose not only its elephant populations but also a major component of Lao cultural heritage. With these threats in mind, the ECC and VESA have joined forces to:
Laos Kip is the currency used in Laos, however most shops will take Thai baht, or even US dollars.
is the language spoken in Laos
and more populate the country of Laos
is the official nationwide curfew. Businesses open past the midnight curfew have usually obtained a ‘special licence' (i.e. bribed the police enough to let them stay open).
“It was a great experience – great mix of volunteer work and sightseeing/fun activities. Everything was organized well, overall, fab time!”
Katarina Simikic – Aston University
“Most amazing opportunity being able to volunteer with the program. Could not fault the experience, the Laos leaders were amazing at their job and made everyone feel so comfortable straight away.”
Siobhan – Non student
“The Laos leaders were so approachable and friendly and made me feel so welcome – as did all the volunteers! Thank you – had the time of my life and will never forget it!”
Rebecca Aspinall – University of York
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