Patthana – Development, Progress, Creating…

October 4th, 2010 Latitude: S Longitude: E

“Patthana” is a word often used in Conversations between outsiders and the Lao:
– What do you do here in Laos?
– I am working with a media development project!

Translate that into Lao and the word “Patthana” will be used.

There’s a lot of Patthana here in Savannakhet, you just have to look carefully – but wether it is “progress”, “development”, “creating something new” or some other (non-)meaning this word has for the Lao, will be judged by others coming after us. The Evangelical church is being built out. It was only a few month ago a shack like the one you see on the right hand side of the picture:

Evangelical Construction Site in Savannakhet, Laos

My impression was that the height of the new evangelical church was about the same as the one of the much older catholic church. It is built opposite the catholic convent of “Le soeurs”, the Sisters, as the older people of the historic neighborhood of Savannakhet call them. If you peek over the fence of the convent, you’ll se a garden and a pool/pont. The latter one fenced in with the typical perforated metal plates that where used by the American forces for their makeshift airstrips or to prevent vehicles from sinking into sandy or muddy ground.

Carousel vehicles from Savannakhet, Laos

Not much “Patthana” by the way with regard to cleaning up the mess the Americans have left in Laos. Still today millions of unexploded bombs and “bombies”, small cluster ammunition is spread all over the country. Savannakhet has a huge share of that.

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