Lone Buffalo, is a community project and UK Charity working in Phonsavan, North East Laos which aims to teach young people English through quality education, sport and life skills to provide improved opportunities for individuals and their communities. There are growing job opportunities in Laos for young people who speak English and have a range of life skills. This relatively well paid work will benefit the whole community.
Lone Buffalo was born following the sudden tragic death of an inspirational local man, Manophet ‘Lone Buffalo’, who committed his whole life to helping others. By day he worked for the national programme helping clear unexploded ordnance left over from the Indochina war (See post ‘Impact’) and in the evenings he taught English in a tiny classroom in his home. In 2006 he founded the school’s football team on a dusty pitch opposite his home and two years later they won the National Day Cup. Everyone who met him was touched by his dedication, generosity, selflessness and stamina.
It was Manophet’s dream to take his beloved football team to Europe. After meeting him Lone Buffalo co-founder Gareth Carter raised funding to take Manophet and his football team to Sweden to compete in the 2010 Gothia Cup, an international youth tournament. It would be the first time a team of Laotian footballers had competed outside of Asia.
Tragically, just before the team were set to go to Sweden Manophet died suddenly. The Lone Buffalo charity was set up in his memory – and continued with the football project. The team returned to Laos with the Gothia Cup Fair Play Trophy – a fitting tribute to Manophet’s legacy.
This amazing journey is documented in the film On Safer Ground (see below). This film created international interest in Laos, telling the story of the nations tragic past and exposing the deadly legacy of unexploded ordinance.
Volunteer Coach Dirk with one of the football team
Some of the present day team after Saturday practice. With head teacher Paula, volunteers Dirk, True and Jane
In late 2011, Lone Buffalo set up an English Development Centre in Phonsavan teaching four levels of English, from beginner to intermediate, to over a hundred grateful young people, most of whom are H’mong (see post The Secret Army) with over a hundred more waiting to join. As one student said recently ‘English is my future’.
Lone Buffalo is unique because it teaches English by using a range of activities from its football team, film making and ICT which also develop confidence and life skills. It operates on a minimum budget and relies on volunteers to fill a range of posts from teachers to sports coaches. Find out more by following on Facebook.
Teacher True with some of her students