In many ways, Bountham is a typical 19-year-old girl: she loves designing clothes, dreams of traveling the world and was recently accepted to college. Her path to becoming the bright, vivacious girl she is today, however, was anything but typical.
Bountham is the second-oldest of six children from a small village in the Salavanh Province of Laos. Her father is a farmer by day, who sells ice cream in the evenings, and her mother gathers bamboo and mushrooms in the forest near their home to be sold at the village market. “I come from a family where being able to attend school was considered to be a luxury,” says Bountham, who was accepted into Room to Read’s Girls’ Education program in the seventh grade when her family could no longer afford the fees.
Focused and hard-working, Bountham not only continued her studies through graduation last June, but finished at the top of her class—placing in the top 4 percent of the 1,257 graduates in her district.
“I learned to become a confident adult from the Girls’ Education program,” she says with a smile. Charming and self-assured, she is the picture of responsibility—taking care of her younger brothers during the day, and husking rice in her spare time to contribute to the family’s income.
“I am motivated to continue in school and get a good job so that I can provide a better life for my parents as they get older,” she tells our team, and on the day we visit her house, she is one step closer to that goal.
"Today is a very special day,” says Bountham. “I just got news that I have got admission in the Salavanh Training College.”
“I want to become a teacher and help the other girls in my village get an education,” she shares, citing her social mobilizer, Ms. Phany, as inspiration.
“Room to Read helped me to move out of the shadows of poverty—I know now that my dreams will come true.”
Meet more graduates from our Girls' Education Program.