At the start of 2020 in January, we were welcoming this new decade with enthusiasm. A few months later, an unprecedented and unanticipated world health pandemic (caused by a new microscopic virus) has turned the world upside-down and have made us all loose our marks, forcing us to change, adapt and re-think all our plans.
It is yet much too early to reflect on the impact this will have on many aspects of our lives; We are still in the middle of this crisis. Time will come to draw lessons, in a couple of months…or maybe longer.
This week, Laos is ‘celebrating’ (rather differently this year) the Lao New Year. The Lao New Year is based on the astrological calendar, historically derived from the Theravada Buddhist tradition. This period (always celebrated for a few days in mid-April), is when people ask for and give each other forgiveness and receive wishes for the new year ahead, symbolized with splashing to each other and cleaning Buddha figures in temples with flower-scented water. It also marks the beginning of the rainy season (usually from May to September), an important time of the year in Laos for planting and harvesting rice, the staple food.
The annual festival is usually the most celebrated and expected with eagerness in the country. But this year is different given the strict restrictions taken by the Government to avoid the spread of the virus in the country.
Nonetheless, the Lao population is one of the most resilient and high-spirited community even when facing such exceptional and dramatic circumstances. We are joining the Lao people in this bitter-sweet celebration and our team would like to wish the Lao nation the best for this new year ahead.
These challenging times are putting our resilience of us all to the test! our teams, as everyone else, have to adjust to the situation as best we can and we are monitoring how the situation evolves in Laos on a daily basis.
While some of our activities/projects have to be postponed, we can still carry on with others, respecting safety measures for all the people we work with. Most of our community livelihood projects are currently interrupted for the time being. Our teams are however carrying on with our anti-poaching patrols, our wildlife monitoring with camera-traps, our canopy camera-traps project and other field research projects when possible (all our field activities do not involve any close proximity with non-human primates, which could put them at risk of transmission of the virus). We will likely also face financial constraints this and the following years, as the world economy will be highly impacted by the crisis.
Nonetheless, we remain positive and optimistic for the future. Resilience is our current Mantra!
To all our families, friends, colleagues, partners, wherever you are, may these coming months bring you happiness, fulfillment, and especially good health for you and your loved ones.
Stay Safe. Stay Home. Stay Resilient. Stay Kind and Generous. Stay Happy.
Sabaidii Pi Mai Lao! ສະບາຍດີປີ ໃໝ່ ລາວ!
~~ The Anoulak team ~~