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FEATURE STORY September 2, 2019

Nam Theun 2 Empowering the Future: The Youth of Nakai


Vilay Souilasith moved to Nongbouakham village when he was 11 years old and his family resettled to make way for the Nam Theun 2 (NT2) hydropower project. He attended school in the new village, and after finishing high school had the opportunity to join a newly formed youth group called Happy Nakai. The group was established in 2015 under the Youth Leadership initiative of the NT2 project, with the aim of improving the skills of young villagers, while giving them an opportunity to work on their own community development projects. Under the Youth Leadership program, the District Youth Union Office and Education and Sport Office, in collaboration with a team from Nam Theun 2 Power Company (NTPC), have developed a curriculum for courses such as management and leadership, business planning, accounting, English, and environmental science. The program also encourages youth to put in practice what they have learned after they finish.

Since joining, Vilay has volunteered his time to help the Happy Nakai youth group work on its three main pillars: economic, social and environmental engagement. Economic engagement has been essential to make the group financially sustainable, beyond the lifetime of project.  The youth have learned about production, marketing and sales of handicraft products, and have worked with local weavers’ groups to increase sales and develop new products. The youth are also trying to develop other income generating activities such as production of herbal products and organic crops, as well as event organization and food catering.


"I have learned many things from joining this group... Now I know how to save money and how to use it economically so that I have some funds for my future business."
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Vilay Souilasith
Youth Group Member

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Vilay working in the Happy Nakai youth center’s organic garden.


“For our economic activities, we work on weaving, handicrafts and herbal products. For environmental engagement, we visit schools in the resettled villages to raise awareness about the importance of forests. And as for our social activities, last year we assisted the village boat racing festival and performed a Lao traditional dance at the village job fair,” explains Vilay.

“I have learned many things from joining this group," he continues, "I like learning financial management and accounting the most, because as a young person when we make money we tend to spend it unwisely. Now I know how to save money and how to use it economically so that I have some funds for my future business.”

 


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Vilay packing gift box containing herbal and weaving products.

In addition to actively participating in the Happy Nakai activities, Vilay applied for and received a funding from the NTPC Long Term Scholarship (LTS) program to access higher education. The LTS is part of a commitment by NTPC, in collaboration with Nakai District, to complement the Youth Leadership program, aiming to improve employment skills of youth from resettled families. Through the LTS program, Vilay received support for his application and preparation for the entrance exam to Khammouane Technical Vocational College, which is two hours away by car from his hometown, as well as financial assistance during his study period.  Vilay is currently in the third and final year of his vocational education, majoring in Information Technology. When he comes back home, he teaches IT at the Happy Nakai youth center as part of the internship required for his degree.

Vilay says he has better opportunities than his parents to access both formal and informal education. His parents could not finish primary school, and later his dad went to work as a soldier while his mom helped in their village’s primary school. Having learned entrepreneurial skills from the youth center, particularly in production, marketing and sales, along with IT skills from his technical vocational college, Vilay is inspired to have his own business in the future.

“My dream is to own a business, a photocopy shop. I have learned a lot from this youth center, particularly accounting and business administration, and I have been studying computer programs. I will use this knowledge to continue to develop myself and to create my own business in the future.”



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