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Church supports building a school in Laos

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Once again, members of Stockton Presbyterian Church are raising money to build an elementary school in one of the most rural villages in Laos.

Named The Sivilay School, it will replace a “tattered bamboo hut” that has no electricity and exposes students to noise, wind and dust, during the dry season and flooding during the monsoon season, said Ken Hayes, a Stockton church leader who is helping spearhead the project.

School is not mandatory in Laos and many parents have taken their children out of the deteriorating school, which is closing, and don’t plan to have them return to a new school that officials proposed building some 10 miles away, said Hayes.

Instead, Stockton Presbyterian hopes to contribute $35,000 to build a modern block and mortar building on the existing site, where 100 children in grades 1 through 4 can be educated. Solar panels will be installed to produce electricity, Hayes said. The school will include toilets, chairs and tables, and blackboards. The funds will also help support two teachers, an aide and all the necessary supplies.

“It’s not going to get done unless someone steps up,” Hayes said.

As they did in last year’s school project in the jungle village of Vieng Xai, villagers make the blocks by hand and construct the building, explained Hayes.

“They do good things and we do good things – let’s do good things together,” added the church elder.

“An education in Laos can mean the difference between a life lived in poverty or being able to take care of your family,” reads an anonymous quote from the church’s website, explaining the importance of the Sivilay project, as well as the Jason School built in 2108.

Because Laos is riddled with unexploded bombs left from the Vietnam War, the area around the school will be swept for the deadly devices, said Hayes, who is founder of a business that designs materials and mapping for such work.

On July 13, the church is holding a concert, featuring Grace Notes Brass and guest vocalist, Megan Hoogerhyde. Donations will help support the Sivilay school project.

To learn more about the school project, the concert and Stockton Presbyterian Church, visit stocktonpresbyterian.org.

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