Bouakham is a 10-year-old girl from Paktha, one of the poorest districts in Laos. Her name, if translated into English, means “a golden lotus”, a sacred flower in Laos.
Bouakham has albinism, a condition resulting in the absence of pigment in the skin, hair, and eyes. Albino children in Laos face social barriers similar to children with disabilities and from ethnic minorities. She is noticed by all; excluded, feared, and mocked. Her albinism prevents her from being in the sunshine too long, and has also caused a visual impairment; she can only read her textbooks in school bent low over the page.
Education is a key barrier to development in Bouakham’s community; it is common for students in grade three to drop out of school because grade four classes are not available in the village. But there is new hope for Bouakham. She is now a Plan sponsor child meaning her whole community will benefit from improved health, education, clean water and sanitation.
Plan’s work is helping parents, caregivers and community leaders to ensure that every child in Bouakham’s community is able to realise their full potential through education. Children like Bouakham are now receiving proper education and growing up in a safe and friendly environment.