Date: 14th to 28th June 2015
Venue: Ban Phongsavanh, Laos

From the 14th to 28th of June, a group of 24 enthusiastic students from Earthlink participated in Ecoventure 2015; Earthlink s very own annual youth overseas community involvement program. Led by Earthlink’s Events Executive Overseas (EEO) portfolio, the volunteers went on a 15-day expedition to Ban Phongsavanh, a rural village in Laos. This project is part of Earthlink s sustained effort to introduce renewable energy to different rural community schools in Laos which was started during last year s Ecoventure. Ecoventure 2014 saw the installation of a 3kW solar panel system in another part of Laos.

After arriving at Luang Prabang, the nearest city to the village via a flight from Changi International Airport, the team travelled to Ban Phongsavanh by boat. The village was located upstream from Luang Prabang and it took the team 4 hours to arrive. The objectives of the expedition were to promote environmental consciousness among the locals through educational lessons and improve the conditions of the village s school by providing sustainable solutions. Over the course of two weeks, the Ecoventure team installed electric lights and fans in five classrooms to create a more conductive environment for learning. Part of the purpose of Ecoventure 2015 is the installation of solar panel systems in these schools as they did not have access to the national electricity grid. The team installed a 2kW solar panel system, sponsored by YingLi Solar, to power the school. The installation process was completed quickly under the guidance of a technician from Rezeca Renewables, one of the partners who helped made this trip possible. In fact, most of the time were spent laying underground electrical wirings between the various blocks of classrooms.

In addition, the Ecoventure team conducted English, Science, and Environment classes for the local children. All of the classes were conducted in English as some of the children had some basic level of understanding of English. Despite this language barrier, the children were fascinated by the lessons and were enthusiastic as the classroom had a good amount of attendees who turned up. Besides the lessons, the team also conducted a Sports Day where members of the team participated in various sport games with the local kids, and needless to say, everyone had fun during the session.

Throughout the entire expedition, the participants stayed at the village for eleven days while the rest were spent in Luang Prabang to restock supplies. The experience of staying over at the village granted participants plenty of opportunities to interact with the locals. The slow-paced cultured atmosphere provided a pleasant contrast to the busy city lifestyle that most of the members were used to. Moreover, the locals were friendly and approachable. Although most of the locals were shy initially, they quickly warmed up to the team. By the time when the team was about to return to Singapore, many members of the team were reluctant to leave as they had forged not just good relationships but also memories.

This trip had given the participants an opportunity to experience the opposite aspect of urban lifestyle. Despite the team s requirement to eat their dinner and having sharing sessions in complete darkness before solar panels were installed, the joy expressed when the first light was turned on was overwhelming. Suffice to say, the expedition was an exciting and rewarding getaway for the volunteers.

Earthlink would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the kind sponsorship from City Developments Limited and PacificLight Power Ptd Ltd, and support from Yingli Solar, Rezeca Renewables and YMCA (Singapore). Without any of these partners, the trip would not have been a success.

This community program was also featured in the facebook page of Singapore Embassy in Vientiane.

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