Fields of Study: Rural Education in Laos



  • The Laos Education Programs are designed to improve the quality of life in Navangtai Village and surrounding villages throughout multiple provinces in Laos by providing children with greater educational opportunities and stimulating sustainable economic opportunities for local villagers. With our efforts, we will also help to preserve the rich culture and traditions each of these villages hold. Our goal is to give them the foundation and school resources to help them seek higher education and build life skills to become successful young adults in society. The key focus is to improve the quality of education in rural areas by providing a safe environment for children with a combination of constructing permanent classrooms, providing education programs, and providing continued teacher training. Our hope is to increase school enrollment and literacy rates within these populations.

    Our first project, The Ban Navangtai New School Project, was completed in early 2013 after a few years of hard and rewarding work, and the continued support by our Project Enlighten board members, supporters, and donors alike. The objective of this project was to build a new Kindergarten school to replace the preexisting foundation at the Primary School in Ban Navangtai village. The new school was handed over to local school officials in April of 2013 with a celebration of its grand opening. This school is currently serving as a model for all future projects. Additional benefits these school projects will serve include continued education for generations to come, common meeting place for villagers, and an organized location for health and dental visits for the school children and the rest of the village population. It is our goal to expand these projects into the current province and other provinces within Laos to be able to provide similar hopes and dreams for other children and villagers who can also benefit from these programs.

    Phouva was able to make a trip back in March and April of 2014 to Ban Navangtai village to discuss the initial plans of building a staff conference room where the teachers and school administrators can meet to discuss school activities, assignments, and projects throughout the entire school year. The staff conference room has been completed and annually, Phouva travels back to monitor progress and look for new opportunities to support education and emergency relief in the village.

  • Daniel Kaufman, loved friend & honored donor.

    We extend an honorary thank you to our favorite band, Marillion, who allowed us to have a charity raffle at their Marillion Weekend in Montreal to raise awareness and funds to build this special school. A valued friend and donor, Daniel Kaufman, attended this charity event and later tragically found himself a victim of the December 2, 2015 San Bernardino, California Shootings. Through the dedication of this school to Daniel and all 14 souls who lost their lives that day, we find hope, love and light.


    [Larry] Daniel Kaufman lost his life helping others escape the brutality that fateful morning in San Bernardino; in an act of selflessness, he gave of himself so others may live. Daniel is a part of that extraordinarily beautiful Marillion family who gives to others all over the globe; he will continue to be part of a cause much bigger than humanity.

    Bound by a shared vision for a greater world together Project Enlighten and the Laos Village of Navangthai are honored to name this school “14 Lights, the Daniel Kaufman School,” to honor the light and spirits of those lost that day. Knowing the care he had for so many, we know Daniel would have likely quoted Marillion in the aftermath of this tragedy, please join us in challenging others to think differently of the world: “…Or you could love.”-Marillion



The Laos Team


Phouva Vorapanya, Program Director

Phouva Vorapanya was born on June 1, 1974 in the rural village of Ban (Village) Navangtai, a large farming community in the Navang District of Khammouane Province in central Laos. He spent his childhood farming with his family and attended the primary and secondary schools in Ban Navangtai. In 1985, Phouva left Laos with his aunt and cousin for a refugee camp in Thailand. They spent almost four years in the camp until they were transferred to the Philippines in late 1988. Sponsored by an uncle, Phouva, his aunt, and cousin arrived in the United States on March 31st, 1989, settling in San Diego, California.

Phouva attended Hoover High School and graduated on June 16, 1993. Shortly after, he went to work for the California Conservation Corps (CCC) for one year while attending Grossmont College. After one semester, he transferred to the College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California. In 1995, Phouva was accepted to Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, majoring in Forestry with a minor in Political Science. During summers he worked for the California State Parks, and in May of 2003, he proudly graduated from Humboldt State University, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry.

After graduation, Phouva moved back to San Diego where he continued to work for the California State Parks. In May of 2005, he was hired by the United States Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service as a wildland firefighter.

Phouva met Asad and Olivia Rahman during his Wildland firefighter training. Because of their dedication to helping people around the world, they helped inspire him to execute his dream of rebuilding schools in his village, Ban Navangtai, Laos. On December 14, 2008, Asad and Olivia visited his village, staying with Phouva’s family. Asad and Olivia assessed the needs of Phouva’s primary school as well as the needs of the students and teachers.

Phouva is working with Project Enlighten to rebuild the schools of his village; his hope is to extend this program to other surrounding villages. He wants all students, not just as those in his village, to have opportunities to attend enhanced schools with more access to resources. He also hopes to inspire and enable students to further their education beyond their primary, middle, and high school years. Phouva would like to thank Asad and Olivia for all their hard work in reaching out to international communities and for their inspiration in helping him pursue this dream.