A Visit to a Lahu Village and Lunch with the Village Head Man
On my most recent trip in October 2012 I had the opportunity to visit a Lahu Village and meet the Head Man of the village. Being particularly interested in seeing a village typical of where our Peace Children’s Home kids come from … and to discuss with the head man the wisdom of taking kids away from their home villages for purposes of education … I jumped at the chance.
So, off we went up a harrowing dirt road for 6-8 km.
I’m told this is one of the “close in” villages, with some of them being a three day walk deep into the mountainous jungle.
Upon reaching the village I was immediately taken by the rudimentary life style evidenced by bamboo homes, free roaming pets and livestock, and — quite frankly — the odor. I was quickly informed that this was actually one of the “better” villages, primarily because they were relatively close to the main road was equipped with electricity, a water tank, and a semblance of plumbing to the houses.
The Head Man was most hospitable, insisting that we join him and his wife and grandson in their home for a meal which he himself had prepared and served with pride. Although I did not recognize some of the many dishes he presented, I’m pretty sure a couple of them were pork (a favorite in these villages) along an assortment of vegetables.
During the mealtime conversation (thanks to translation help from a Lahu speaking friend) he assured me that he was in full support of some village children moving to a facility where they could receive a good education. He emphasized that was especially needed where family support for the child was minimal — or in some sad cases — nonexistent. He was also quite critical of the nearest government school citing lazy, incompetent teachers resulting in virtually no education for his village kids.
After our meal, he asked us if we would like to hear some traditional Lahu music. Having no idea what to expect, we, of course, said “yes”. So, he produced with great pride an instrument which we learned he had hand-made himself.
The hospitality with this proud grandpa continued with a walking tour of the village where we also got to “meet” a few of the villagers and attempt to say “hello”. Most of the houses are build up high on posts. If you look carefully you can see the villager’s farming fields on the distant hillsides where they grow mountain rice, corn, pumpkins, beans, and other staples of life.
Along the way we met this young woman and her two year old child. Turns out she is now 16 years old. Didn’t ask about her educational level. Didn’t really want to hear the answer. (Breaks my heart to think about it.) Early marriages and many children born to these young mothers simply ensures that the cycle of poverty will continue on for at least another generation.
This a good example of why we focus our efforts on educating girls.
It was interesting to see the actual conditions from which the Peace Children’s Home is attracting kids. I’m told by Tutu that there approximately 225 kids in the 18 villages in this region, most of which are receiving no education at all. Now … THAT’s … and education for me!