Then we headed over to the village and met the director, who took an hour out of his time to show us around and answer our questions
. The "village" is really a cluster of a dozen houses where the orphans who attend the school live. There are currently 120 orphans living in the village and 800 children attending the school. So all of the orphans have the opportunity to attend the school, but being an orphan is not a requirement. Each building houses 10 children and "mom," who is typically a childless women from the community. Many of the orphans lost their parents to UXO, but that isn't the case for all. The director pointed to two children and told us they were recently admitted, after losing their parents in a car accident. He obviously knew all their names and their stories. As we walked around the courtyard area where the children were playing, they would stop their games to bow at us politely. The houses in which they live were spotless and well-maintained, and they had little gardens out front where they grew vegetables. We asked about how they receive their funding, but the director was unable to tell us beyond the fact that it came from the SOS Program, which is an international organization that provides aid to orphans world wide. It seems to be doing a wonderful job.
After all of the time and attention the director gave us, he did not even push us for money. We had to ask him if we could make a donation, to which he seemed very pleased and excited. And I was happy to see that it was recorded in a log book and we were written a receipt, good signs that the money will go to the organization and not someone's personal purse.
Before we left Phonsavan, it was important to us to see the orphanage we had heard about. We had read that there was a certain hour (10 AM) in which we could visit with the children and help them with their English. So arrived on time, to find that the children were on vacation, but they told us we could tour the grounds of the school if we'd like, and we could visit the adjacent "village" if we wanted to see the children. We quickly walked around the school and spoke with one of the teachers. The school was small considering it held all grades, but it was clean and well-kept. The curriculum, according to the teacher, seemed quite good, and the students receive an education in all the basic subjects and some English as well.