Growing up in the tiny village of Vang Vieng in Lao PDR, Sengkeo Frichitthavong was used to lush rainforests, clean air and unpolluted rivers.
As a teenager Sengkeo and his family then moved to Canada as refugees. He returned to Vang Vieng 12 years later and was shocked to see the drastic transformation of the village he loved. While tourism created new opportunities for the locals, the rapid development affected the environment and depleted the rain-forest.
“When I was a child, you would be lucky to see a single road looking from a helicopter above. There have been massive negative changes, and this made me determined to do something to preserve what we have left before they are all destroyed.”
Sengkeo did not want to sit idly by as the natural environment and local culture was destroyed around him. He wanted to make changes for the better, he wanted to help his community and he wanted to show the locals that there was another way.
His vision started to take shape when he met French Anaïs Maumet in 2006. They began to discuss the possibilities of creating a sustainable future. Two years later they established the community-based project, SAE LAO Association.
In addition to running the SAE LAO Project, Sengkeo is also board member of EEFA (Equal Education For All) in Vang Vieng West, an association that was built up by the Vang Vieng Organic Farm to support Lao people in learning English. SAE LAO is a registered branch of this Not for Profit Association.
The SAE LAO Project is continually expanding. Check out our news feed and facebook page, SAE LAO family, for more information on our current projects.
Sections of text originally published by The Star Malaysia.