Kajsiab Cultural Exchange, Volunteering and Traineeships
Kajsiab is founded by Lara Picavet and Nzoua Vue. They run Kajsiab together with the local Lao Hmong Community, Kajsiab Team. Kajsiab Team is owner of Kajsiab projects. Kajsiab Team develops, manages, organises and runs the activities en takes all final decisions in cooperation with Lara and Nzoua. Kajsiab Team, Kajsiab Home residents and visitors, volunteers in Daauw Home en local trainees from the mountains work together at Kajsiab Shelter, Kajsiab Women's Workplace, Kajsiab Children Care and Education, Kajsiab Cultural Exchange and Traineeship and Kajsiab Villages.
Activities Cultural Exchange and Traineeships
A) Building of Women's Workplace, Daauw Restaurant and Daauw Home Bungalows and renovation work at Kajsiab Shelter
B) Activities at the Women’s Workplace and in the Kajsiab Shelter
C) Building Toilets for Women’s Workplace, or in one of the villages or a local school
D) Activities with the Kajsiab Children and working at Daauw Home and Daauw Restaurant as trainees and with volunteers from all over the world.
Project Kajsiab Laos Timeline
Kajsiab is active since 2009.
Stichting Kajsiab Laos is founded in 2010.
- 2010 Building of shelter Kajsiab Home
- 2010 Building of restaurant en Home stay Daauw Home for self-sustainability activities and traineeships local mountain people .
- 2010 Opening Woman Empowerment Shop
Kajsiab begins in 2010 with informal, safe, respectful cultural exchange between volunteers and local mountain people.
- Kajsiab Home: informal information point in shelter (hygiëne, sexual education, vocal training for visitors local hospital)
- Daauw Home: traineeships and informal workshops for local mountain people in Daauw Home, both focussed on income generating skills to build up self sustainable future.Income of Daauw Home goes to running costs Kajsiab Home and Daauw Home
-Woman Empowerment Shop; local women sell their handmade embroideries.
2010-2012 Kajsiab Cultural Exchange and Volunteering: Kajsiab builds in 2012 a restaurant/meeting place with Woman Empowerment Shop where local residents,visitors and volunteers can meet each other and learn from each other. Besides the existing activities the Woman Empowerment Shop and activities are expanded, focussed on new income sources for women.
2013 Kajsiab Villages: Kajsiab begins in 2013 with the first of the Village Projects: a water system is built in one of the villages. In the future these projects will be expanded with distribution of water filters, , solar systems, birth-kits and books/library for children.
2013-2014 Kajsiab Women's Workplace: Kajsiab finishes the building of the Woman’s Workplace in 2013. This is the beginning of Kajsiab Creations line, handmade local products of the women in the mountains of Laos.
- Traineeships mountain people
- Assistance of women after divorce, unbalance, drug abuse partner, illness of family or child, partner in jail.
- Informal Workshops for income generating skills (f.e. guide, owner of shop homestay, restaurant)
- Making local products to sell (embroideries, natural clothing, bamboo products,natural soaps, coconut oils, gift cards, notebooks, home made pizza’s, chocolate spread,bread, cakes, cookies with local ingredients, traditional medicine plants from own garden
- Work in the near future on the Organic Farm
- Cultural exchange women and volunteers
- assistance and informal training local mountain people
2014-2015 Kajsiab Women's Workplace phase 2: We focus on expanding the projects in the women’s workplace and will develop new activities for the mountain people to empower themselves to create a self sustainable future.
2016 Women's Health Embassadors - have a look at the Women's Workplace Information
2016 Kajsiab Villages - have a look at the Kajsiab Villages Information
2017- 2018 Daauw Farm:Besides the existing organic gardens we are working on the building up of a new Organic Farm and the expanding of the Traditional Medicine Garden. We will fundraise to be able to buy a piece of property to realise Daauw Farm;an Organic Farm that will offer more traineeships and workshops to the mountain people and more cultural exchange between volunteers and mountain people. The food distribution from Daauw Farm will be essential for Kajsiab Home and Daauw Home to become fully self sustainable.
Results Kajsiab Cultural Exchange and Traineeships; yearly overview 2014
Computer Classes(Zjong, Bounchan, Waa, Sja)
Last year we bought two new computers and fixed two second hand computers.We are doing informal computer classes, by volunteers for the Kajsiab team or by the Kajsiab Team for the mountain people who visit the shelter.
We are teaching and learning at the same time and have therefore a good balance between mountain people among each other and the volunteers, without having ahiërarchie.
The team is self-reliant in terms of offering and teaching/learning the mountain population. We also use the computer to make short movies, for example about hygiene, where volunteers and the Kajsiab Team are shooting. The other computer is mainly used for communication, administration and printing of local products and flyers. Bounchan en Zjong are learning to answer e-mails, to print,and basic administration skills.
The computers are being used to learn about other cultures and information. The volunteers use the computer to help with administration, e-mails, printing,communication, website and blogs.
At first the Kajsiab Team had a very hard time to make the decision to buy a fridge and to decide which one would be the best to meet Kajsiab’s needs. So it took awhile.............Kajsiab Vision: it is better to wait for a while and see how Kajsiab team learns through the process than to push a decision through insistently. Finally Bounchan stepped forward to explain which fridge Kajsiab would need and why.He became responsible and did a really good job. Afterwards he was proud he built up enough confidence to make this decision.
Paint (Zjong, Bounchan, Jaa)
Last year Kajsiab team held a few extra ordinary paint workshops. Out of the blue a painter from New york showed up and did a few workshops, focussing on the Process,not the result. This was an amazing experience for the women and children. The learned painting does not always have to be about realism, but can be a free-your-mind experience by painting a purple tiger. The mountain people learn from these lessons in creativity to become more flexible and confident to see their own future with a wider perspective.
A group of volunteers from England flourished Daauw Home with beautiful drawings of flowers and texts. The girls at Kajsiab (teenagers) really enjoyed the process and occasionally they even dared to help.This project is in terms of building self esteem for the women, the girls and the children very successful in the light of these experiences, the Team decided to purchase more paint and continue to do workshops with the volunteers. The team is self-reliant in terms of offering and teaching/learning the mountain population.
Natural Soap and Coconut Oil (Eve, Mike, Ing, Baauw, Jaa)
Eve and Mike a family who volunteered with their two children six months at Kajsiabstarted with the introduction of the production and sales of Soap and Pure Coconut Oil.In addition, they have helped with the improvement of Woman Empowerment shop andto make the Shop more accessible for buyers of the local products. They also introduced pizza, jewellry and notebooks. They have learned a lot about the local culture and customs-on a deeper level than short-term volunteer-while living and working together with Kajsiab team
They learned, among other things, why the locals feel less pressure to produce quickly,how to live a more balanced life, with all the feelings we have, and without experiencing stress. They have also learned why, if a tool is lost, this does not automatically meanthat it is stolen, but that there is a more community feeling at the mountain population,whereby stuff can be borrowed without consultation and will also be put back again.Food and eating together has many unwritten rules and as a foreigner is is almostimpossible to understand why and how and specificly why mountain people are so tenderin their emotions, but at the same time will never express their pain just to let go oftheir own emotions. They rather choose to keep the balance in the group and let all live with a balanced a good feeling about the moment.Eve has learned a lot about the local plants from Zjong and Jay Hau and has emerged into a sort of local doctor who combined Western medicine and aromatherapy and at the end she was Jay Hau's (whose specialty naturopathy with the traditional Hmong methods) first help.Still now the mountain people who come to Kajsiab Home ask for her and she is missed by all deeply for her personality and her skills.
From the beginning the Soap production encountered unforeseen problems and difficult challenges.First of all, it turned out that a member of the Kajsiab Team who had indicated he wanted to learn Soap production, had problems with Mike because of cultural differences. The Hmong population reacts completely different than a foreign person and this caused wrong communications. However, after a month both had learned of this and they learned to respect each other.
There were a lot of logistical problems, for example how to get the coconuts cheap and how to obtain wrapping materials cheaply and locally.After half a year are Eve and Mike left earlier than planned due to family circumstances. That means that the Soap production, which they basically were planning to accompany until the final stage, was only halfway through implementation process.
Kajsiab Team has held a meeting if she wanted to go through with the Soap production or not. The Team has indicated that they see a lot of problems in the project as there is a chemical process involved.
At Kajsiab Home 16 children are walking around and in the villages would, if the project would be introduced, be many problems, as children, during the day, often stay in the villages and take care of babies and little brothers or sisters. If the chemical powder accidentally would come into contact with water, this could cause severe burns and accidents.
However, the Team expressed that she wanted to go on with the production of coconut oil, a long and laborious process, but logistically feasible for the mountain population in terms of safety. We will, the upcoming years improve the method and try to bring about a better supply of coconuts.
Eve and Mike have given so much of their own personality and their skills to Kajsiab and we were all so sad they had to leave. They were the motor behind the improved Woman Empowerment Shop, the new local products and their daily life as a family among the mountain people taught the mountain people that we are all the same people, with dreams and desires, with faults and mistakes, with love and tears.
We all hope that they, like we all have, have taken all they have learned with us withthem and that they will use it in their future life, because believing in one’s own soul andacknowledge your own being is the one thing you need to make your dream come true,for yourself and for your family.
Construction of the Women’s Workplace, the volunteer House, boxes and bookshelves (Zauzong, Tsiasing, Bounchan, Hu, Tising, Nzoua, Nzau)
Why Kajsiab is so successful as a Project by and for the mountain population. Theboxes, storage cupboards and bookcase are needed for the many informal workshops held in the woman place. This is the result. But the process itself is for Kajsiab just as important or even more important than the result.
Everything in Daauw Home is created by the mountain people themselves. If Kajsiab needs a professional product, house, toilet or terrace, we would have to hire a company of the city, the Laotian city population, who’s workers are very skilled and have had a formal education. However, Kajsiab, in line with her objectives, will only hire of people from the mountains. For example, Kajsiab takes two people as paid trainees and the people learn during their internship to build houses, toilets, boxes and bookcases. A result is that it sometimes takes a while before the product is finished because of ceremonies at their own villages or work at the ricefield, or that something built wrong and we have to start building again from scratch. At such a time it is important(especially for our Western volunteers) to realize that Kajsiab work lays in the process itself. It would seem that all the work is done for nothing, but this is not true; the mountain population has learned an important lesson. So ... .... the bookcase is divided into pieces of three cabinets, the boxes are a mix of box and seating for children and turned out to be too small for the women, and the table that was made, turned out justright for the women to sit while they were working on their embroideries. The result is surprising and fits in the end exactly, the process was excellent.
Tsiasing, Jaa, Nzau, Bounchan en Nzoua have learned a lot by all this work, how to prepare a construction project, how to organize, manage, how to do the job yourself and how to work with volunteers and mountain population.
Workshops-Soap and Coconut oils(E, M; details see above)
-Hygiene (two Australian Sisters of 50 years and a few months later four Swiss medicine students)The workshops on hygiene are a success. There are games held with the children about teeth brushing and hand washing, there are playful movies made and there is an ongoing informal exchange about hygiene and health.
-Unexpected development: Kajsiab Team introduced workshops traditional Tofu and Rice bread, in the revival of old environmental friendly organic methods of producing food. This came from the exploratory workshop of Solar Cooking.
-These workshops will upcoming year become more efficient to schedule a workshop about every week.
Pizza (E, M, two Italian volunteers, Zjong, Nai, B, J, Ing)
The homemade round oven made of stone and clay is according to the Kajsiab team the most successful project of the year. E, M and two Italian volunteers started building and within a very short time, Kajsiab Team helped enthusiastically - with an idea of"what should that be......that will not work, will it?".
Then it DID work, it worked so well and the whole Team was very proud. The volunteers started making own pizza dough, bread dough and cookies/cake and pie dough. After a little awkward beginning (the weighing of the ingredients was a very big step for the mountain population) the volunteers for a week and the Kajsiab Team saw her opportunity to try ..... and sure enough, it worked! They are very excited, make many delicious products and immediately put pizza on the menu of the restaurant. Meanwhile,Daauw Home restaurant is well known in Luang Prabang and Thailand for their delicious pure homemade pizzas.
Zjong has been named Pizza-Queen.