Community Learning International (CLI) is a non-profit small International Non-Governmental Organization. In addition to being non-governmental, they do not promote any religion or ideology.
Having been involved in Laos since 1997, CLI is registered in the USA having charitable organisation status. Maintaining no US office or staff, all funds are allocated to Laos operations, indeed they are a very lean, low overhead organisation.
Community Learning International strongly believe that education, formal and non-formal is key to providing a long term solution to development, including poverty reduction, and this is where most of their resources are directed. They work to improve the limited formal system in Laos – by building village schools, for example – and to supplement it – via their Lao Children’s Library Boats and their Learning Centers.
They also address near-term family income improvement through projects supporting local activities such as women’s weaving groups and village coffee growing. They are rural/remote in their orientation, because that is where most Lao live, and that is where the needs are greatest. They have 37 staff, 35 of them Lao (including from ethnic minorities), 28 of them women.
Almost all CLI staff work in their home rural districts, and the only non-Lao staff are CLI’s founder and international director Bob Anderson who has lived in Laos for 15 years; and CLI’s development director Alexander Robb-Millar who has gained extensive experience in Laos over the past 10 years.
The CLI mission statement is:
Community Learning International creates opportunities for disadvantaged communities, families and individuals to work to improve their lives.
The mission statement is purposely broad, to give CLI flexibility to respond effectively to local needs and conditions. Those local needs and conditions, combined with CLI awareness of options from outside, are the mix that defines their response, not a narrow mandate drawn in advance. Community Learning International use a couple of slogans to illustrate what they are aiming to accomplish in applying the mission statement, through educating young people especially, but in all their work they are forming futures and opening minds to a work of opportunities.
Much of their work is done with partner organizations, which leverages resources to do more than could be done separately. CLI is governed by an international volunteer Board of Directors, with board members currently from the USA, England, Thailand and Laos.
They believe education, formal and non-formal, is the key to longer-term development, including poverty reduction, and therefore concentrate most of their resources on children and youth – on those lives where we can have the biggest impact, the greatest return on investment, to use business language.
Based on over 16 years of first hand knowledge of Laos and its people, CLI has built deep and trusted relationships with local communities. By training and employing staff from the actual districts we work, consulting directly with the local people and listening to their needs, it is this on the ground presence and local knowledge that is essential for success in development.
Working with other NGOs and world renowned organisations including Carla International, and in collaboration with the Royal Geographical Society, CLI is open to new ideas on expanding aid, however not to the detriment of our core activities. They continually strive to be as effective as possible.
There are two CLI “book boats” taking Lao books to villages along the Mekong River and its tributaries. The boats serve children in more than 100 riverside villages, who otherwise would never have books in their hands. Each boat normally goes out for two weeks to a month each trip.
The boats carry more than 1,000 books each. They typically arrive at a village in the morning and the village primary school is dismissed for the day to allow students to read nonstop. Hearing the boat, students rush eagerly to the riverbank. They go aboard in shifts to choose books, then sit nearby and read intently, then repeat the process. Boat staff organize active learning games for part of the day, games that emphasize the importance and fun of reading.
The boat stays overnight at the village and children continue to borrow books well past dark, to be read by candlelight at home. In the morning the books are collected and the boat goes to the next village. The boats also circulate around nearly 100 “book bags” of 100 titles each, leaving them with selected primary schools and periodically swapping them so readers have new titles.
CLI had planned to expand the project with another boat in 2012 and had a pledge of funding. But the new boat plan is on hold while CLI attention is directed first at finding needed funding to maintain all core education activities, before expanding the boats project.
Use this site to learn more about CLI: https://www.facebook.com/CommunityLearningInternational
Contact them on http://www.communitylearninginternational.org/contact-us/
Providing opportunity for a child is easier than you think. Community Learning International turns your dollars into opportunities for children and communities in Laos. Donate through http://www.communitylearninginternational.org/donate/