Khounkham, August 3, 2018ScolLaundry

Bounmee Phommalinh loves her job. “I like making beds and folding things – it’s very satisfying”, she beams. Some might think her work, as a house-keeper at guest rooms on the Theun-Hinboun hydropower site in rural Laos, to be limited or unambitious. But 22-year-old Bounmee, a bright and bubbly character, is very enthusiastic.
“There’s many different aspects to a successful guest house”, she explains, “lots of tasks that should be done perfectly. With training, practice, patience and experience you can achieve this, but you have to work hard”.

These are not the words of a casual worker, but the thoughts of a dedicated professional who completed two years of training at the Lao National Institute for Tourism and Hospitality, or Lanith, following a scholarship awarded by the Theun-Hinboun Power Company (THPC).

From Khounkham district in Khammouane province, the location of the Theun-Hinboun Powerhouse, Bounmee grew up next to the hydropower project, which was under construction when she was born. At the age of ten she enrolled at the Theun-Hinboun Private School, which offers free education to the children of local families. “My family was poor”, recalls Bounmee, “so I was even given uniforms”.


Bounmee remembers her school days fondly. Having friends who went to other schools, she was able to appreciate the quality of education at the THPC School. “The teachers were good”, she says. “They had a lot of skills, understanding how to transfer their knowledge and let each child develop individually”.

At the age of 18 Bounmee finished her national high-school exams and applied for a THPC vocational scholarship, available for underprivileged children at the company school. She was one of two pupils selected for the award, which offered places at Lanith in the Lao capital, Vientiane.

“I had never been to Vientiane before and was so excited,” she remembers. “There were a lot of new experiences for me, going to a big city so far away.” There were also many challenges, but the scholarship included a monthly stipend from THPC and support from company staff in the capital. They gave Bounmee textbooks and stationery, and knowing that she could always call them if she needed was a great help. She was able to live frugally as a student, saving some of her allowance each month in order to help her family.

At Lanith, Bounmee chose a diploma in Accommodation Operations, including courses in tourism and hospitality, communication and computing skills, English, housekeeping, and business management. She especially enjoyed the housekeeping course, which taught practical skills and provided the opportunity to work and learn alongside fellow students.

In her first year she completed a month’s work experience at a resort in the tourist destination of Vang Vieng, and the next year she was an intern at a high-class hotel in Vientiane. These stints not only taught her about working under real-time pressure, but also paid well.  ScolTowel

The THPC bursary is a tied scholarship, meaning the students are obliged to work two years for the company following their training. Bounmee says she understood this when applying for the scholarship. How does she feel about it now, when she could easily find work in the city? “I’m so happy to work at the THPC camp,” she replies. “My house is nearby and I’ve missed being home. Some other pupils from the school won scholarships at a higher level, to study at university, but they weren’t lucky enough to get jobs with the company”.

The THPC guest house hosts around 170 visitors per month, mainly contractors, government officials and head-office staff coming to site for meetings and work. Bounmee arrives at eight o’clock each morning to meet the manager and team for daily planning. She then works in the laundry, folding and finishing all items washed the previous day before returning them to the guest rooms and cleaning each room.

She works with speed and precision, taking less than ten minutes to turn around each double room with en suite bathroom. Her efficiency makes skilled tasks like bedsheet cornering and towel folding look simple.


Young and new amidst a team of older women, Bounmee is aware that she has to tread carefully when displaying her skills and voicing opinions. She has ideas on how the guest house systems could be improved but for now is content to lead by example, working hard and leaving each room spotless. “There are many different tasks each day, so it’s interesting”, she says. “If you can make a place clean and welcoming, you make yourself and the guests happy.”

Education has given Bounmee confidence and ambition. “I’ve been given an opportunity to improve myself and earn a steady income,” she says. “Without the THPC School and the scholarship, I would be labouring in rice fields, doing harder work for less income. Now I’m saving money for the future. I want to improve myself and one day run a housekeeping service that trains people and is used by many companies. Maybe then I can offer opportunities to local people, like THPC does”.

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On 6 June 2018 the Lao Federation of Trades Unions (LFTU) presented its highest level of award to THPC in recognition of the company’s donations to the LFTU over the last three years. Each year THPC has made a donation in support of the LTFU's work on the occasion of International Labor Day.

Presenting the Trades Unions medal to THPC General Manager Mr Robert Allen, Mr Phouvong Farkfueangchai, the Director of the LFTU Incentives and Awards Department, thanked THPC for its ongoing support and commended the company for its sustained performance.

Mr Allen said THPC was honored to once more receive the Trades Union Medal and stressed that careful observance of workers' rights is a key foundation of company policy.



Khounkham, May 16, 2018WebOct 2014 0589

The Theun-Hinboun Power Company (THPC) has handed over four agricultural development centres to district authorities in Bolikhamxay province to help foster sustainable livelihoods in the area.

The agriculture centres, in the villages of Nongxong, Sopphouan and Phonthong in Khamkeuth District, and in Ban Keosenkham, Xaychamphone District, were run by THPC to demonstrate cropping and livestock rearing techniques during the resettlement phase of the Theun-Hinboun Expansion Project, from 2008 to 2017.

Each centre features around a hectare of agricultural land, with greenhouses, livestock plots, trial fields and gardens. They are also equipped with administrative buildings and accommodation for staff. According to Vongchanh Indavong, a senior manager with THPC's Sustainability Division, the centres were built as demonstration and training centres for livelihood restoration activities during the expansion project’s consultation and planning process. The centres then housed extension teams who worked with villagers and district staff.

With most households in the resettlement villages approaching or surpassing the income targets set out in THPC’s WebSept 2012 0166License Agreement with the government, the Theun-Hinboun project has entered its next phase, during which support is given to help communities achieve sustainable development without dependence on the company. District Agriculture and Forestry Offices are therefore assuming control of the centres along with village development committees.

Ms Vongchanh said that THPC would contribute towards operating costs at the centres for the next three years and was also hopeful that new partners would be interested in assisting the district offices with extension work. “The centres have the pote

ntial to help villagers set up supply links to local markets, notably at Lak Xao and Khounkham,” she explained. “THPC has previously invited experts from the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute to work at the centres, and we believe that other organisations or private companies could use the facilities here to implement positive agricultural work in line with their mandates”.


WbMay090031WebSept 2012 0477

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Ban Phaxang, Khammouane, June 1, 2018IMG 4132

Marking National Tree Planting Day on June 1, Phaxang villagers came together with staff from the Theun-Hinboun Power Company (THPC) to plant trees and increase the amount of green in their community.

THPC provided 2,000 saplings, including fruit, ornamental and plantation species. The saplings were distributed to households for planting in their house areas and in public places such as the village school, temple and health centre. THPC technical staff also gave the villagers instruction on how to plant and take care of the trees.

Each year the company selects one village for tree planning efforts in the area around its power plant, organizing an event with local authorities to mark National Plantation Day and World Environment Day.

Mr Soulideth Baomanikhoth, Deputy General Manager of THPC said that “trees planted today will increase abundance for the community in future, providing shade and fruit for villagers”.

Phaxang groups five small communities that were formerly in Hinboun District, and was built by THPC as compensation for longer annual flood periods.

The Theun-Hinboun hydropower expansion project, inaugurated in 2013, intensifies natural flood cycles on the Hinboun River, so THPC built new houses and public facilities on higher ground for villages along the river.


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