Sombath’s Work

This website is being slowly upgraded, including the page on Sombath’s Work. Any additional links, materials, media, comments and/or corrections will be greatly appreciated.

Many would like to forget Sombath and his work, and return to the status quo. Please help prevent that by sending your contributions to thesombathinitiative@gmail.com

Friends and colleagues of Sombath are also encouraged to write Letters to Sombath.

Finally, can anyone identify the year and occasion of this picture?

Sombath & Quaker Service Laos

Sombath speaking about integrated agriculture

Sombath worked closely with Quaker Service Laos (QSL) during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He made significant contributions to their programs, including the Rice Integrated Farming Systems (RIFS) project.

History of Quaker Service Laos Development Work 1973-1999″ mentions the RIFS project, and how it evolved into The independent Participator Development Training Center (PADETC) .

While QSL staff wrote a plea to the Lao government soon after Sombath’s abduction, subsequent requests to contribute their thoughts about Sombath and his work have been unanswered.

Those who worked with Sombath are encouraged to share their experiences by writing a Letter to Sombath.

Sombath’s response on receiving the Magsaysay Award

Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation: Manila, 31 August 2005

Sombath-MagsaysayThe honorable Chief Justice Hilario Davide, trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, distinguished guests, fellow awardees, ladies and gentlemen, good evening.

It is a great honor for me today to be here receiving the 2005 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, and I would like to sincerely thank the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation and its board of judges for conferring on me this important award.
This award is not just for me or for my staff in PADETC. This award is also for our young Lao volunteers and youth leaders, who have demonstrated to us, the adults, that they have the capacity, and indeed the right, to claim the space to determine their own and their community’s development pathway. I believe that it is their passion and their hopes and dreams for a better future which are recognized and celebrated through this prestigious award today.

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Dear Sombath…from Shui Meng (11)

My dearest Sombath,

Today is the last day of 2017.  For four years now I have been waiting desperately for news of your whereabouts and your safe return.  This time of the year should be a time for family gatherings to send off the old year and welcome the new.  But for you and I, there is only longing and waiting.

For you, wherever you are, I hope and pray that you are well and in good health physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I can only hope that your innate kindness, sincerity, and good humour can win you friends wherever you are and whoever you are with.  I hope they will treat you well and will be won over by your humility, your wisdom, and your deep spirituality.  I hope they will find your wide-ranging knowledge and skills useful to them and that they can benefit from your advice and service.  I hope and hope that they will somehow find it in their hearts to see the kind of person you are, and they will one day set you free to come back to us. (more…)

“By 1980, he was home again”

SB & Woman-005bSombath Somphone’s early life took place amidst uncertainty and turbulence as Laos was swept into the Indochina War. He eventually escaped this by winning a scholarship to the University of Hawaii, where he earned degrees in education and agriculture. By 1980, he was home again. That same year Sombath helped launch the Rice-Based Integrated Farm System Project, to help Laotian farmers achieve food security. The ensuing years exposed him intimately to the world of rural Laos and to the complex obstacles awaiting development workers in its remote scattered villages.

From citation for the 2005 Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership