On Saturday I volunteered to start work at 6am and clean out the pigs. I have grown up with friends that live on farms and have mucked out a few horses and cows so I was happy to volunteer. What I hadn't thought about was that cows and horses only really eat grass so their faeces isn't really that bad. Pigs on the other hand eat all sorts of things and their poo is a lot smellier and it wasn't my favourite way to start the day. There was then bamboo to be moved from the lake to big pile nearby. I spent hours doing this and it was really heavy as it absorbs all the water but I enjoyed the exercise. After that we all learnt about the biogas system and turned the compost which was hard work as it was really heavy and there was a lot of it. The compost is made up of straw with cow, pig and human faeces. Once it is ready it is put into a large tank and it generates gas for cooking with. It is pretty disgusting but I was fascinated that you can generate gas literally from a pile of poo. The gas can also generate heating. For more information on Biogas please see the links below.
- http://www.snvworld.org/en/countries/laos/our-work/projects/biogas-pilot-programme -The biogas system at Sae Lao was created with help from this organization.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biogas - general info about biogas.
That afternoon approximately 20 members of Sengkao's family came to visit the project. They were all very inquisitive and asked lots of questions about our volunteer work at the project. We talked a lot about family values in both Laos and western society . In Laos people always look after their family and parents and older people are held in high regard. Young adults often leave the village to work in the city or occasionally abroad and they send money home to support the rest of the family. When their parents become old and require care they will always return to the village to take look after them in their old age. They believe that your parents have taken care of you so when it is needed you should take care of your parents. There is no care system for the elderly or disabled as they are always looked after by the family. If there is anyone who has no one to look after them and they are in need of care they become a monk or nun and are looked after by the temple. There is also a belief that all family should be supported and this is often the main reason for arguments in married couples. If someone has a shop or business they will try to create a job for each member of their family. This can cause frustrations as there may be one member of the family that is lazy but as they are family they cannot be sacked they may be asked to show more enthusiasm but even if they do not they will still be paid and keep their job. This can cause a lot of friction and arguments within the family.