In rural Laos, housing for farm workers has traditionally been inadequate and temporary, with the migrant workers having little or no access to medical or educational support in the community. Sam Say, a Canadian Lao expatriate, purchased 160 hectares of land on the Bolaven Plateau, with the vision of a sustainable coffee plantation, village and farm where Lao employees are empowered with knowledge, skills, training and technology to prosper.
BWB partnered with Sam Say, the Bolaven Coffee Farm owner, who wanted workers to own coffee farm property. The BWB team (Pictured: Bob Culbert, Andrea Hestvik, Neil Griggs) surveyed the property and developed a land-use plan for the village and farm, including housing sites, farm plots and designs for a typical family house. BWB also contributed the design of the wood frame homes within the village, and proposed the design of a new bridge connecting the farm to neighbouring villages.
Longer-term stable community housing was a direct result of BWB’s involvement. Construction of the homes (Pictured) and land plots provided farm workers income stability, long-term health and education opportunities. This in turn provided employee commitments to the community.
Now families live on this developmental farm for a two-year term. Their accommodations and meals are provided, they receive medical attention, their children receive an education, and the families are trained in integrated farming and coffee growing. The coffee is roasted and packaged in Laos, providing more jobs, and is then sold directly to North American households. After their two-year term, Sam Say matches the money the families have saved, providing incentive for them to start their own farms with the knowledge and skills they have gained.