Demokratische Republik Laos: Ny Luangkhot

There are two types of people in this world, the strong and the weak. We can choose to belong to either kind. But for women, I wish they would seek to belong to the strong rather than the weak.

— Ny Luangkhot

Ny Luangkhot was born in Nongbon village Chaichettha district, Vientiane in 1953. She has a master’s degree in economics from the University of Kiev and another in Sociology from the Sociology Institute of Moscow State University. She worked for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and was an interpreter for high-ranking officers. She lectured on Marxism to senior members of the Communist Party and worked for NGOs. Currently a consultant on development issues, she trains local workers in community development project evaluation for local and international organizations.

Ny Luangkhot was one of 19 children of a poor family – only eight children survived. As the eldest sister of the remaining offspring, she had to take on great responsibilities. After school, she collected vegetables and fresh water crabs and fish from rice fields to sell and so earn income for her family. She took her education seriously and completed her elementary education with high grades. After high school, she applied for a scholarship to study abroad. Having passed the test, she was sponsored by the party to study in the Soviet Union (USSR). After completing her studies, she returned to the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) and worked for three years at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. She was promoted to a high-ranking position, translating for the central Politburo. In 1985, the Party sent her to the Sociology Institute of Moscow State University for her second master’s degree in sociology. Upon her return in 1989, she worked as an interpreter and lectured on Marxism to senior party members. As Laos opened up, a number of international NGOs came in and Ny Luangkhot resigned from government to work with NGOs for a couple of years. Working as a freelance consultant on community development, focusing on human development, she operates mostly in far-flung rural areas with the least facilities. Many times, she has had to lead her team up the mountains during the rainy season when travel is most difficult. Ny Luangkhot is part of an early group of local Lao who promote public participation and community empowerment. Her concepts and approach have led to changes in community development work in her country. She has inspired many development motivators who have worked with her through the years.