Lao Project Group (LPG) provides project coordination, consulting, translation assistance and ongoing support for multi-ethnic rural Lao communities, volunteers and donors. Ounprason Inthachith, Founder and Project Coordinator, has received high praise from friends and supporters. Nang Nonnarath Dunn of Village Run is currently working with LPG and states, “We understand that we might not be there at each of our projects, but we take comfort in knowing that our partner is doing exactly what our mission and vision stated.”
By Ounprason Inthachith
Mom first returned to Laos in 1995 and then every year after that. Every time she came back she would ask for money from family members, friends and myself. At that time I thought she just needed extra money for her vacation, but on my first visit back to Laos our family here in the Luang Prabang area took me around and I discovered what she was really up to. She was in fact taking money from family members to renovate temples and help people in the countryside. It was a pretty good feeling to be thanked for something you really had no idea you were doing it. So, mom gave the inspiration to what is now Lao Project Group.
I never imagined that I was going to be doing this kind of work. I remember education was not my thing and definitely not social work. Those who knew me back then, who saw how I went through school, would have never thought I was going to be some guy pushing for schools and helping people. I think the human nature part of life got a hold of me and imbedded the good bug in me or maybe I got a good kick in the butt from downfalls in life that I realized this was what I was supposed to do.
I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and was born in Luang Prabang, Laos. My mom is from a little village in Oudomsai Province called Na Xeing Dee. My dad was from Nam Gha village of Nam Bak District. My mom still lives in Madison, but my dad has passed away and I never had any true memory of meeting him. He was part of the changes in Laos during the 70s and 80s, and never immigrated to the US with the family.
I started out pretty good in school through my sophomore year at Madison East High, but got caught up in my teenage crisis years. I later attended Memorial High School, but never got the momentum back, finding myself straying here and there. I eventually got my GED from Madison Area Technical College and continued my studies there. In the end school was just not for me. I found myself being more hands-on and went to work.
From Cousins Sub to retail at ShopKo to electronic assembly to Oscar Mayer doing line work packaging lunch’ able snacks. I continued to take classes here and there, but really never focused on one particular field. I enjoyed the classes and did well in all of them, but was really just sampling the curriculums. I suppose if I had a chance to do it again, I would do things differently. I don’t regret my decisions, which have taught me a lot and I had to grow up fast.
Here in Laos I have been promoting LPG’s goals by finding ways to get people involved in working and learning with me about Lao culture and traditions. I hope that those who participate can take home fond memories and have a sense of pride that they were part of shaping someone’s life for the better.
I really want to get Lao American communities to help by using their special knowledge and skills to work within the rural communities, because they have a lot to offer. I truly enjoy what I am doing. I keep meeting great new people in all parts of Laos and keep introducing others to our Lao culture and traditions. Most importantly, I enjoy watching my son grow up. I’m hoping he doesn’t follow the path his father took in getting to where I am now. I hope he will be wiser than his old man and make the right choices the first time around.
For more information about Lao Project Group, visit http://www.laoprojectgroup.org/