This presentation was part of the Sombath Symposium on “Humanity and Nature: Traditional, Cultural and Alternative Perspectives”, the objective of which was to present and discuss knowledge and practice drawn from different cultures and traditions that can serve as an alternative foundation to the predominant growth-driven development model.
The Man, His Work and His Dream for Laos
The Participatory Development and Training Center (PADETC), founded by Sombath, held its 2015 fair under the banner of “The Man, HIs Work, and His Dream for Laos,” on Friday, December 11th.
Approximatley one hundred friends, colleagues, CSO staff and diplomats attended the event, which included Buddhist prayers for Sombath, and comments from his spouse and colleagues.
Some likened Sombath to a farmer nurturing a fruit tree. But rather than keeping the fruit for himself, he would spread it around so more trees would grow, and produce more fruit.
May the fruits of his vision continue to grow.
A Thai PBS report on the event.
Please join our writing contest!
The Sombath Initiative is sponsoring a writing contest about issues in Laos. Any age or nationality can enter, but Lao youth are especially encouraged to apply.
Essays should be about any one of the following topics (Please select one topic only):
- Sustainable development in Laos
- Youth and education in Laos
- Civil society in Laos
Entries should be in either Lao or English, and between 500 to 1,000 words (approximately 2-3 pages) in length.
Three prizes will be awarded for both Lao and English (six total prizes):
- $300 for first prize
- $200 for second prize
- $100 for third prize
Following the philosophy of Sombath Somphone, essays that are positive and inspiring will be given preference over those that are critical or negative.
Winning essays will be posted on the website, Facebook and Google+ If contestants request, their name will not be included with the posting.
Entries must be sent to [email protected] no later than January 31st, 2016. Winning contestants will be notified by email.
Thank you, and we look forward to your thoughts!
Community-oriented learning: A view from Laos
As Somphone’s abduction highlights, attempts to redistribute power away from national governments towards community-identified needs is a highly politicised endeavour that can result in severe, and often violent, suppression. This is particularly so in non-democratic states. Yet it is not an unachievable shift. Indeed, while the post-2015 agenda has displayed a number of weaknesses in its attempts to encourage disparate viewpoints within the agenda-setting process, it nonetheless makes an explicit call for the advancement of such participatory approaches.
For this to occur, however, national governments, global development institutions and bilateral aid donors need to relax their current stature as the privileged interlocutors of development and become more supportive of community-oriented development agendas. It is not uniformity but diversity that holds the key to culturally sensitive development…
Kearrin Sims, in “Culture, community-oriented learning and the post-2015 development agenda: a view from Laos,” in Third World Quarterly, September, 2015.
Saving the Planet: It's Alive!
This video about Sombath and PADETC’s work with schools and youth volunteers was produced by Saving the Planet in 2009. It is also available in Khmer, Nepali, and Sinhala.
Laos has a lot of potential
We need to have a balanced development. Balance between economic development, social development, environmental harmony, and most important of all is the development of our young people. They are the cornerstone and the future of our country.
Sombath Somphone, in Country Boy Forever, a video produced by PADETC in preparation for his receiving the Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 2005.
Nature & Materialism
Our children have no time to exercise their innate curiosities and capacities to explore their world and its links with nature. They have no encouragement to develop their innate emotions of love and care of life and for nature. Time spent by children for nature walks and studying in the open are now replaced by spending time either in extra tuition classes (more cramming and rote learning), in shopping malls, in digital gaming parlors, or in front of the TV. The models of success for children are largely determined by what money can buy. No wonder, their aspirations are all geared around materialism and short-term gratification, and eventually mindless greed.
Sombath, from Talking Points for panel discussion at FCCT in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 November 2008
Education is too Important…
Education is too important to be left only in the hands of teachers and bureaucrats at the Ministry of Education. Educators and teachers need to work hand-in-hand with parents, the community, the private sector, and most especially, children themselves to transform the business of education.
Education has to become more participatory, experiential and stimulating. It has to be more fun. Both the process and content of education have to unleash the potential of every child to solve life problems. Education should be able to integrate information and knowledge into a coherent whole.
Sombath, in “Experiential Learning in Lao Rice Fields,” SangSaeng, Summer, 2008.
Let the Young People Work on It
The most effective way of bringing about holistic education is the participation of young people in designing the future of our education and pattern of development. Young people themselves are more open-minded to new ideas and behaviors and should take ownership in designing their own future. We, adults, are not their future. We, adults, have broken the world. And we do not know how to fix it. So let the young people work on it. We can use our wisdom, not greed, and compassion to guide and mentor them.
Sombath, in “Interconnectedness for Happiness Together,” Asian Public Intellectuals Newsletter, March-August 2012.
Listening to the youth
Mr Sombath said our greatest hope is listening to the youth and listening to the children. He said the children in Laos are very smart and they have great ideas and want to be a part of the change in Laos.
“Laos kids express hope for the future through images” MindaNews: 07 September 2013