At Stray, we believe that travel is a two-way exchange between travellers and locals. It’s important for us to give back to local communities in return for the incredible things that they teach us about their cultures. Find out more about Lone Buffalo, a not-for-profit school in Laos and how Stray makes a difference with its yearly donation.
Where is the Lone Buffalo foundation?
Lone Buffalo is based in Phonsavan, North East Laos. Laos is a developing country in South East Asia that was heavily impacted by the war bombings between 1964 and 1973. 80 million of these bombs never exploded which had a massive impact on development. Unexploded ordinances (UXOs) make it very difficult for farmers or those who want to build on the land so, unfortunately, poverty is rife. Most of the Lone Buffalo students come from farming backgrounds but, as Laos is starting to experience a cultural shift in education and work, the organisation wants to provide these young people with skills that will enable them to be successful in business, arts and technology-based careers.
What does Lone Buffalo do?
Lone Buffalo’s main aim is to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve success and reach their goals by creating similar opportunities to those from more privileged backgrounds. They provide free English classes for more than 200 young people living in rural Laos (many families can’t afford to send their children to school), monitor students progress through university and introduce them to prospective employers as they come to the end of their degrees.
The English classes are taught by trained local teachers and professional western volunteers. The ability to speak English makes a huge difference to young peoples futures by enabling them to work in professions that were once out of reach for them.
Outside of English lessons, the school offers football coaching, film making/photography classes, use of the gym and free Internet access. Lone Buffalo also includes UXO awareness in the curriculum and educates the students on the dangers of unexploded ordnance. There are over 300 young people waiting to enrol in classes but priority is given to those affected by UXO or those whose parents work in UXO clearance.
Why is it called Lone Buffalo?
The project began following the sudden, tragic death of an inspirational local man called Manophet – also known as, Lone Buffalo. Manophet spent his life helping others and contributing toward the clearance of UXOs. In his spare time, he taught English in his home and touched many people with his generosity and selflessness, which is why the project was named after him.
How does Stray get involved?
Stray has been sponsoring Class 5a every year since 2015. It costs us just $1500 USD to provide a teacher’s salary to teach 6 hours of English per week and all class materials such as textbooks and stationery. We regularly receive updates from the class we sponsor, including photos and teachers reports on the students. Any Stray passengers keen to visit Phonsavan can hop off in Luang Prabang and make their own way there via public transport.
What’s in store for the future?
The future is bright at Lone Buffalo! Currently, there are more than 50 of their students studying at universities in Laos, China and Vietnam. In 2017, the first Lone Buffalo graduate began his career as a radar technician (with help from the Lone Buffalo employer introduction meetings). Students are continuing to excel in their studies, continue producing films and playing football outside of class and we can’t wait to see the number of Lone Buffalo graduate successes grow year after year.