May 23. Easy bashing German state aid.

We have a delicious noodle soup for breakfast in a place that looks like what you would expect of a Lao eatery: the wooden terrace was built in the field, and farmers are ploughing in sight. This valley has always played an important cultural role as many different hilltribes interact here. Even today, local schoolchildren belong to numerous different tribes and they have to learn Lao in order to receive an education. And then there’s English, perhaps the most important of their subjects since it enables them to communicate with the world.
Our day gets along calmly, I live the Lao rhythm now and enjoy it. I don’t even remember the deeds I might or might not have done, the ride to the market, the afternoon nap, the rearranging of the center’s bookshelves.

We have dinner with a German couple, and I seize the opportunity to talk German again. The man gives a sceptical account of German state-organized development aid in this region. The GTZ (for technological cooperation worldwide) paid millions for a rubber plantation to create jobs for poor Laotians, while Chinese entrepeneurs came in later, invested some money and set up a more profitable plantation without any aid money. They installed electricity and the result was Lao people flaunting their laziness watching bootlegged Thai sex movies. The efficiency of those aid millions is very low, not to say that it’s counter-productive. I’ve heard similar stories about the GTZ and the DED many times, and I think some of it must be true. I’ll try to get hold of them back home although I heard they are a select and conceited club. Anyway, I crafted my own concept of doing something good, and yes it IS a delight that I am not dependent on proto-cynical overly bureaucratic government services for that.
We talk about our donation to the butterfly children and the school before we all go to bed. We need some rest am I writing this boring diary about a terrific time I can’t believe it… so rest because we will leave early tomorrow. We got our call to move on, towards Luang Prabang and Vientiane, following the common trail to save time. So what, everybody does this. Read everybody’s blog. Anyway, to get some words in, the butterfly center in Muang Sing we supported is really nice and quite unique. You don’t want to know how much trouble the US couple had to get their allowance to live there. So it is really great that they aren’t retiring Thailand-style but empowering the local community and enabling many of the kids to go to college. It would be nice when everybody would do that, wouldn’t it?

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Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

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