Meet Sonekeo – a future leader working in Community Development
Growing up by the rocky mountains in Pha Muang, Khammouan Province Sonekeo was a talented student. In Grade 4 she won first place the physics subject competition at her local school, then went onto continue her studies at Vientiane High School. Sonekeo received a scholarship to study English at Vientiane College and then applied for a Laos Australia National Scholarship to study Social Welfare and Development at the National University of Laos.
Laos Australia National Scholarships are designed to support underprivileged young men and women from rural districts of Laos to study at an accredited Lao University. For Sonekeo, it was a life-changing experience
“The Laos Australia National Scholarship helped with the cost of studying, living and health insurance, but really it was the support services that really helped to make me feel comfortable and ‘at home’ at university. Having the scholarship support was like a family where everyone supports each other, the teachers and staff were always providing useful advice for both studying and living.”
Sonekeo explains that the Australia-funded scholarship also helped her to learn new skills for finding work after graduation, such as time management and how to apply for jobs. These new skills paid off when Sonekeo was successful in applying for work with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
“Working as the Community Outreach and Dada Collection Officer in Sam Nuea means that I can help to educate the community about the negative effects of drugs, and I am able to use all of the knowledge and skills that I have learned from university when I work. I really love this job, I believe that “if we do what we like, we will do it well“.
Sonekeo has travelled far on her education and employment journey and she has spent many years away from home. For Sonekeo, Lao New Year has a special meaning as it is a time to return home and be with family and loved ones.
“On the occasion of Lao New Year, I would like to wish you all success in your work and good health. I wish you all to celebrate the Lao New Year happily and mindfully, as well as spend time with your family and loved ones with joy. For those who are far away from their families or parents like me, please go back to visit your family because “the best New Year’s gift for parents is to see their children’s faces”.