Most children in Laos have never owned a book. With their opening line, the website of the ‘Big Brother Mouse’ Project cuts right to the core. It might be something you don’t think about daily, but most children in the world, Laos is not alone in this, never owned a book themselves.
A lot of children don’t go to school either and most village don’t even have books to begin with. That’s something this wonderful project in Laos would like to change. And you can help them do just that:
BIG BROTHER MOUSE IN LAOS
Starting A Book Club
Book clubs are quite popular all over the world, but I don’t think there is one as special as Big Brother Mouse. The first plans of the project were made in 2004, by a pensioned American publisher.
In 2006 Big Brother Mouse opened its doors and their first 6 books arrived in March and April that year. Some of the books are completely in Laotian, others are bilingual. With the last type of books, older children can profit from them as well, by using them as extra material for their English studies.
In the first year, Big Brother Mouse published 30 books and the number is still growing. Other than writing, illustrating and printing new books, the project also plays a big role in the distribution of the books.
They organize so-called ‘Book Parties’ in smaller villages, set up ‘mini libraries’ and arrange moments for the locals to meet with English speaking visitors of the country.
How You Can Help
The Big Brother Mouse Project is depending on donations and there are lots of different ways to contribute:
- Visit the Office in Luang Prabang and help the locals to learn English. Talk about your personal life, your work, your family, show pictures of you in the snow and ask about the life in a Lao Village, whatever you want!
- Buy A Book – or a set of books – in either the Luang Prabang or Vientiane offices. You can also order the books online.
- Sponsor a Book Party. For US$250-400 they send around 80-250 books to a local village, they talk about books and also put 50 books in a ‘swap box’, where children can share books together. Sounds like a real party to me, and you can join them if you have the time!
- Sponsor a new book. It takes about US$1000-35000 to produce a new book, specially designed for children in Laos. All books are fully illustrated.
- Publish your own book. Are you a children’s book writer? Do you have a published book (suited for children in Laos)? You can give Big Brother Mouse the rights to publish that book in Laos as well!
- Bring educational games, or software, computers, camera’s and computer parts.
In this picture, you can see me teaching English to a couple of young boys. They came with their own books (one of them travelled for about 3 hours!), asked lots of questions and are serious about it. The tourists coming here and helping them are much appreciated.
One of the boys tried learning English from a dictionary only, so I gave him some tips of learning the language in a couple of different ways as well. Then we talked about pets for a while and I found out that cats and dogs over here are not the standard – no, these boys had chicken, pigs and even a water buffalo as a pet!
Have a look on the Big Brother Mouse Website for more tips and ideas to support this project, or to read more about the history and development of this wonderful project.
Do you know another great charity in Laos? Please Share!