I Could Not Sleep: A Tale of Thongxay

Thursday 11 February 2016


No more cold nights, no more leaking roof, and no more studying in the dark. Thongxay now enjoys the new dormitory that offers both convenience and comfort. Many of her peers, both girls and boys, are now living in a well-structured dormitory in their lower secondary school.

Figure 1Dressed in full school uniform, Thongxay is standing inside of a new female dormitory in which she is currently living.

Thongxay said, “It was cold in the old building [old dormitory]. I could not sleep. The roof leaked when it rained. There was no dining area. It was dirty. There’s no electricity to study. I was afraid when there was strong wind.”

Thongxay is living in a dormitory because her house is located about 4-hour walk away from school. Because her family cannot afford a bicycle, like other families in the area, Thongxay and her friends walk 4 hours back home every Friday. During weekends, she will go to fish, catch freshwater crab, collect vegetables for food for the first few days in school, and they will buy some for the rest of the week.

Thongxay is currently studying in Grade 7, and she wants be a Mathematics teacher. Her pursuit of becoming a teacher almost slipped away when she was sick and missed school for more than a month. Fortunately, she has received a scholarship that lessens some medical bills for her family and they could send her to school.

Ms. Khamtun Sidalay, Director of Kiewmixay School, said“Ms. Thongxay almost dropped out. Thongxay had a terrible fever and had not come to school for more than a month. Luckily, the project gave scholarship to a school, and the school set up a team to go to give scholarship to her at her house. She then had money for medication and was able to come to school.

Thongxay explained her aspiration when she said, “My dream is to finish a higher secondary school and continue to study to become a math teacher because I love studying math.”

Even though the dormitory and scholarship have provided Thongxay a chance to study in a safe environment that will enable her to follow her dream of becoming a math teacher, some improvement is still needed to ensure that Thongxay and her friends can have access to proper basic needs and facilities.

For example, even though the dormitory has proper toilet facility, it is still unusable because there is no water yet. They are using the limited water from a gravity-fed water system.

Thongxay explained, “The toilets construction is complete, but it is not allowed to be used yet because there is no water.”

Nonetheless, the new dormitory and scholarship have laid a strong foundation for Thongxay to have a better future – a future with her dreamed fulfilled. And, of  course, not only can Thongxay go to school regularly now, she does not have to sleep through cold nights, get wet from the rain running through a leaking roof, or study in a murky room anymore.

 Figure 2: Interior of an old dormitory that secondary students in Sayaboury stayed in