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Kava Primary School in Laos was built by Thongsay Phanlouvong and his School for Kids charity.

Thongsay Phanlouvong

The gift: Creating School for Kids in Laos

The reason: To refurbish schools in Laos

A few years ago, Thongsay Phanlouvong took his family on a trip to Laos to show them where he grew up and went to school.

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He'd left Laos in 1980 as a teenager, making his way to Winnipeg via a refugee camp in Thailand.

"They saw that the state of the schools was in really bad shape," Mr. Phanlouvong said from the family's home. "I told them, 'You have it so good in Canada.'"

When they returned home, his children wanted to do something to help. That led to the creation of School for Kids in Laos, a charity that raises money to rebuild schools.

The group works with local authorities to identify buildings that need renovating or additions. So far, School for Kids has helped to rebuild and expand five schools, raising as much as $60,000 per project.

It also contributes money for supplies and equipment.

The group is about to begin its sixth project and Mr. Phanlouvong, who works for the Manitoba government, has returned a few times with donors and volunteers (each pays their own way).

"It's very emotional," he said of the visits. "We feel very proud."

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