Vientiane is the capital city of Laos. The city has a population of 950, 000 inhabitants.
Located in the north west, the Mekong river separates the city from neighbouring Thailand. The First Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, built in the 1990s, connected the two countries and fostered Lao’s economy.
Although the country’s economy is growing, many obstacles prevail. Poverty still affects one quarter of the population. Children are suffering most from poverty; many do not get enough food and can only dream of going to school.
Since 1995, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Vientiane.
More than a third of women (34%) and men (35%) experienced some form of violence during childhood. More specifically, every 1 in 7 women and 1 in 6 men experienced at least one form of physical violence before the age of 18. Around 22% of girls and 36% of boys experienced their first incident of sexual abuse when they were 13 years old or younger.
These are only a few of the heartbreaking numbers reported in Laos. One of the causes of this violence is sometimes attributed to the fact that 42% of adults in Laos believe that physical punishment is necessary to raise a child.
Parents in Laos sometimes struggle to provide enough nutritious food for their children in the many remote communities.
And thus, although the situation has improved over the years, 33% of children still experience stunting (low height for age), which is a result of undernutrition. Around 9% of children experience wasting (low weight for height), which occurs when a child has not had enough nutritious food.
Laos also has the highest infant mortality rate in Southeast Asia: approximate 40 out of 1,000 infants die before their first birthday.