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Photographer's Note

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This 10-year-old boy is fishing on the Muong Hoa Ho little river zigzaging around the minority tribes Lao Chai and Ta Van, near Sapa. While most of the boys of his age around the world doing this for fun, this boy was fishing to make a living for his own and his family, instead of being in class for education.

As standing on the bank looking down at this kid, I remembered a passage written by Peter White, printed in the December 1968 issue of National Geographic about Laos:

One quiet morning, I saw a little girl fishing in a mud puddle with a basket. I asked to see what was in her pail. Four frogs, a dozen small fish, a fat beetle, crisp watercress.
What was her best catch so far? “The big frog,” she said. “He’s the meatiest.”
I tried fishing with her basket, up to my ankles in mud. On my second try I caught a one-inch fish. She laughed.
She has just begun, she said. In an hour she could gather enough food for a meal for two families. With rice, of course.
In the dry season she dug for crabs. They are easy to to find then, she said, and fat.
I thought about that and wondered. Would the Lao be happier if they were left to the simple life along the Mekong?
I asked Oukeo Souvannavong, the Lao member of the Mekong Comminttee. He said: “Our people have a happy nature. They are not ambitious like you. They have few needs, and no desire for more and more things. Even if they are hungry, they do not complain.”
Mr Oukeo’s mood changed abruptly. “The happiness of our people is base on ignorance…”
[The Mekong — River of Terror and Hope]


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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 471 W: 125 N: 2332] (8458)
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