OPINION:Solidarity among people, villages a fine cultural model

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Laos has preserved its strong culture and traditions for hundreds of years, with successive generations keeping the country’s history alive. 

Reflecting this tradition, Thaphabath district was last week declared a new solidarity district, the first in Borikhamxay province and the second district in the country to be officially accorded the status.

Approval of this title was given by the organising committee of the Lao Front for National Development, making Thaphabath the second so-called solidarity district after Ngeun district in Xayaboury province.

Laos’ tradition of solidarity has been handed down from generation to generation. To perpetuate this tradition, the Lao Front for National Development is encouraging other districts around the country to work towards this life-long honour.

What strikes me about solidarity is that it is an effective way for Lao people to preserve their fine customs. Lao people are generous and kind as well as peace-loving. They readily smile at strangers and say ‘Sabaidee’, even though they don’t know the person they are addressing.

Lao people also ask you to eat with them if you walk past their house while they are having a meal. Cooking food for festivals and for the local community reinforces the tradition of solidarity and people customarily work together throughout the country to organise festivals.

Families and villagers also help and take care of each other, which makes for closer ties and unity.

Thaphabath was named a solidarity district after fulfilling standards set by the Lao Front for National Development.

These state that local people should live in solidarity, practise gender equality, help one another, and should not be divided by ethnicity or religion.

Villagers should be politically astute, law abiding, and contribute to local activities.

In solidarity districts, all households practise cultural traditions, their children meet education standards, everyone can get health care, and all the villages in the district are free from poverty. These communities have also set up funding groups for development and jointly maintain and sustainably make use of the environment.

I was present at last week’s ceremony to declare Thaphabath a solidarity district and asked some local people for their thoughts on this happy occasion.

A long-time resident of Na village, Mrs Vanny Khanthamon, said “Today, the people of my village have come to hear the declaration. We are helping each to make food and organise the event, while some groups in our village are selling handicrafts here. We are very happy to be recognised as a model of solidarity. It is true that our people, village and district solve problems through discussion and work towards finding solutions.”

“Our villagers as well as members of families always help each other to organise festivals in villages and the district, such as the That Phabath stupa festival in February. We provide food and drink and manual labour to make the event a success and ensure that visitors feel welcome,” she added.

An 80-year-old resident of Huaysaiphai village, Mr Phomma Chanthalangsy, said “We are happy to have been named an outstanding district of solidarity. The people in my village grow rubber trees and raise livestock. We help each other by cooperating and discussing ways to solve problems that arise in the village and district, and work in harmony with the authorities. Our solidarity is reflected when we have festivals. All villagers, both rich and poor, give what they can to contribute to the event and join together to do all the necessary work to organise the festival.”

I strongly support the concept of solidarity. It enables communities to live together peaceably and ensures security. It bolsters our sense of unity and a love of our culture, which I hope will stay with us for ever.

These days I notice that some people who live in cities are more selfish than people who live in rural areas or in the suburbs. I think the Lao Front for National Construction and other involved organisations should do more to ensure that all people value our culture and history.

Their work is a great contribution to promoting solidarity and maintaining our fine traditions. 

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