Sometimes you’re lucky enough to visit a place that changes you. And other times, you are lucky enough to change a place you visit.
That was what happened to two guests at Victoria Xiengthong Palace recently who had to decide what to do with their bicycles now that their trip was coming to an end.
Antoine Lobry, General Manager of Victoria Xiengthong Palace, picks up the story. “A couple of weeks ago, some of our guests gave us two bicycles after their trip to Laos, asking us to give it to some organization who needs it. So we found this school (LEOT) for disadvantaged children, who lets students borrow these bikes for going to school from their village.”
The Lao Educational Opportunities Trust (LEOT) is a UK charity working exclusively in Laos helping disadvantaged students and communities through education, a notable endeavor considering that Laos remains one of the world’s poorest economies where many country schools are short of books and qualified teachers.
While their largest activity is the LEOT free school where English is taught to approximately 200 disadvantaged young adults (aged 16-25) who cannot afford to pay for lessons, the charity also provides educational scholarships for further education and is involved in community projects ranging from digging a bore hole for the school for the deaf to installing and totally repainting the Namphak School in the countryside one hour from Luang Prabang.
Upon receipt of the bicycles, the school sent Victoria Xiengthong Palace a letter, which says in part:
“Thank you so much for the gift of the two bicycles given by your guests. We have serviced them and completed some repairs. Yesterday, they were given to two of our students that have to walk to school. The bikes will be part of our student loan scheme and will be returned at the end of the studies for other students in the future. Please pass on our sincere thanks to your guests.”
The guests were delighted.
“When we bought the bicycles at the start of our journey most people asked if we would sell them again at the end of it. We had never considered this option and always wanted to ‘give a little back’ to the people who were so kind and hospitable on our holiday. So your letter this morning has validated our decision ten-fold and we’re really happy that the bicycles are being put to good use. We also hope to return to Luang Prabang one day. We loved Laos and Luang Prabang especially and have lots of happy memories of both the city (and your lovely hotel!). Thank you so much for your help and for arranging for the bikes to go to a good home!”
The two worthy students also took the time to write in their thanks.
“My name is Lao Yang. I’m 22 years old… I live in a poor family. Thank you very much for your bicycle. I’m very happy because this is the first time in my life that I have [received] a bicycle… I won’t forget you forever because you are the first person that can support me.”
“Hello! First of all, I would love to say: How are you?” wrote 18-year-old Xengkong Mua. “I like studying English very much, but I don’t have a bicycle… If I borrow your bicycle, I will go to practice my English at the big brother [h]ouse and my library… I will never [forget] you forever in my life… I am going to look after your bicycle.”
Victoria Hotels & Resorts is dedicated to being an integral part of the community where we manage properties and are delighted when our guests share that desire to give back to the beautiful people who make each location special.
What other ways can you make a difference while on holiday? Share your ideas with us in the comments below!