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Village boy cements his future in Vientiane

His arms are sweating and his black t-shirt has white marks where the sweat has dried – an indication of the hard work that he puts into mixing the concrete.
A smart and muscular boy, Lien is just 19 years old but has been working in the construction industry for five years since leaving lower secondary school.

Sathit Vilakhet makes concrete blocks.

Born into a poor family in a rural area of Luang Prabang province, Lien has had to work hard since he was very young. He didn’t have a choice about whether to continue his education like most other children, and dropped out when he completed lower secondary school.
Lien came to Vientiane and got a job making concrete blocks and pillars at a small workshop, at the suggestion of a friend.
He doesn’t earn much but is paid on a piecemeal basis. So every day he tries to work as hard as possible to make enough money for himself and to send home to his parents.
Lien’s house is a small concrete hut which he built under a big tamarind tree. Behind it he keeps a few chickens and ducks and tends a small plot of vegetables that he uses for his meals every day.
Lien lives and works with a boy who is two years younger and they treat each like brothers because they come from the same village.
Every day Lien and his friend wake up early so they can cook their breakfast and go straight to work.
They usually work in the shade of a big tree and also take breaks during hot weather. They lay down for a nap in their hammock under the trees near the concrete mixer.
But the nap time is all too short and doesn’t come around very often because sometimes they have to deliver concrete blocks and poles as soon as a client orders them.
When the rainy season comes to an end, the construction industry is in full gear as people resume work on their houses. The business does a brisk trade in concrete blocks but that means the two young men must work harder so they can put more money in their pockets.
At 2 pm, Lien has to get back to work again after his break and continues the arduous task of churning out concrete blocks and supporting columns until 4 or 5 pm.
The work looks laborious but he is very strong and always has some energy left to enjoy a game of rattanball with his friends in the evening after feeding his animals.
This kind of work is very easy to find but most men don’t stay long in one job, as they are always on the lookout for a place that pays them better. But Lien has stayed put and has never attempted to move on.
During the five years he has been working in Vientiane he has never returned home.
His village is very small and has only about 50 families living there. Most young people don’t stay – some find jobs in towns while others spend long periods in the forest cutting wood or hunting animals and only go back to the village for a few days. But Lien says he misses his family and friends.
He is very active and never turns a job down, doing anything his boss asks. This works well for both of them and his boss likes him very much so that he feels like a member of the family.
Lien is still young and has no plans for the future. For now he enjoys his daily routine feeding cement into the concrete mixer and is satisfied with his lot in life.

By Patithin  Phetmeuangphuan
(Latest Update November 20 , 2017 )


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