Roof Repairs

A BIG thank you for all your donations which have helped the Vang Vieng Primary School fix their classroom’s roof. Sustaining Communities will continue to assist in the school’s ongoing development with your help. Thanks again.


School Staff go on Computer Training Course

Teachers and the administration staff of the Vang Vieng Primary School have undergone a computer training course to improve their computer literacy skills. Sustaining Communities provided the computer in May 2011 and is now providing funding for further training as part of our commitment to develop the educational capacity of the school prior to the introduction of the sustainable technologies. This is one of a number of initiatives to be introduced throughout the course of the school year.

Sustaining Communities has moved to Ireland.

Sustaining Communities has left its birthplace in New Zealand and moved back along with the Managing Director to his hometown of Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland. Project Laos will continue to assist the Vang Vieng Primary School in delivering a quality educational curriculum, adequate equipment, sound building structure and in the future allow the school to be self-sufficient with its Water, Energy and Sanitation requirements.

Sustaining Communities has a new Project Coordinator.

Sustaining Communities has hired a Project Coordinator to oversee our operations on the ground in Laos. Pairoth “Pike” Lotakoun, is a Lao-Canadian and lives in Vang Vieng with his partner Alicia and their baby daughter Skyla.
Pike will act as an intermediary between us and the school to ensure smooth running of our operations and activities to improve the educational capacity and structural integrity of the school.


In our previous meeting with the Vang Vieng Primary School we discussed the most appropriate long-term developmental strategy based on the finances currently at our disposal. After reviewing this meeting with the school administration, Sustaining Communities has decided to makes a number of short-term changes to Project Laos in which the most pressing needs of the school have been prioritized accordingly.

While our core focus is still to provide sustainable Water, Energy and Sanitation technologies for the school and communities in the developing world we also have a duty of care to listen to, and liaise with, the schools and communities in question about their concerns regarding the project. We have therefore decided to prioritize a number of issues that need to be resolved in the immediate short-term.

The principle and deputy principle have expressed gratitude and interest in the proposal of having the schools energy needs fully provided by solar power and the EGP system as something that could be developed in the future and over various phases.

We will therefore be delaying our order for the school’s solar system until we address the concerns relating to the lack of teaching resources and actual structural integrity of the building.

Sustaining Communities is an organization founded on the principles of sustainability guided by the Natural Step Framework. The 4th condition of the Natural Step requires greater social equity and resource/wealth redistribution before a sustainable outcome can be reached. In other words people need access to the fundamental necessities of life, namely: Food, Water, Health-care, Education and Shelter before any progress can be made towards achieving full sustainability and social justice on a global scale.

Sustaining Communities’ ultimate priority has always been the school and the educational, health and recreational resources available to its students. Until we can provide the school with a structurally-sound building, an up-to-date curriculum, adequate equipment and teaching resources then our efforts to create a fully self-sufficient school will be in vain. Unfortunately in the current monetary paradigm, social and environmental concerns will always be hindered by economic factors. The cost-benefit analysis of providing energy independence to a school that doesn’t yet have the appropriate resources for both their teachers and students is therefore currently unfeasible.

We have decided instead to allocate the funds raised for the EGP and solar systems into 5 separate budgets for the school.
-Provision of a full time English teacher.
-Provision of training and further education of the teachers.
-Provision of further training for selected students.
-Provision of an equipment budget – educational and recreational.
-Provision of a budget to help maximize the efficiency and minimize the cost associated with the computer that was donated to the school last year (lessons, paper, ink, maintenance, electricity costs, etc)

-Sustaining Communities will also be liaising with other organizations to help address the needs of the school’s classrooms, which currently require maintenance and repair.

Sustaining Communities is a non-profit organization in its infancy and is still in its developmental phase. We are open to and welcome all advice and criticism that will help us grow as an organization. We consider the technologies we provide to be the “Hardware” of the operation and obviously will have the most appeal to donors because of their tangibility. However unless we also provide the school with the appropriate “software” in the form of training and resources we will severely reduce the effectiveness of what we hope to achieve in the long-term. If any person who has donated to the organization and takes issue with the direction we have taken please don’t hesitate to contact me on and we can discuss the refund of your donation. We have a commitment to full transparency on how our funds are allocated and this will be made available on our website in the coming weeks.

Sustaining Communities would like to again thank all those who generously donated their time, money and effort to help children in the developing would improve their standard of living and educational capacity. Further updates will be posted shortly.

First meeting with the school administration.

Sustaining Communities has arrived in Vang Vieng and after our first meeting with the school administration we have been able to address many of the school’s needs and concerns.

Topics covered in this meeting include:

-The immediate needs of the school – administrative and structural.
-Equipment the school could benefit from.
-The provision of a full time English teacher.
-The new computer and issues that have arisen – costs, paper, etc
-Computer lessons for the students and the teachers.
-The electricity costs to the school.
-The new Solar and EGP system.
-Extra curricular activities.
-Sustainability related educational resources.

We now aim to address these needs with the school over the coming days and prioritize them accordingly. Further updates will be posted shortly.

Part 2 of the Energy Phase – Sunlabob Solar Systems

After careful analysis of the school’s needs and how best to cater for them, Sustaining Communities has decided that a photovoltaic solar system will be provided prior to the installment of the Electricity Generating Playground. While the solar panels that are included with the EGP system allow a constant electricity supply, the energy output is not sufficient for the school’s needs. We have therefore decided that an additional solar system will be installed first with the help of a locally owned and operated solar company. Sustaining Communities will be meeting with solar provider Sunlabob in Vientiane in the next few weeks to discuss the best options for the school. We would like to thank everyone for their continued support and updates on this phase will be posted in the near future. To check out Sunlabob and all the great work they have been doing both in Laos and internationally please click on the following link:



End of Winter Tree Plant for Ziptrek Guests

Due to the unfavourable climatic conditions during the winter months, the tree saplings that were purchased by guests on Ziptrek’s flying-fox tours were not able to be planted. We therefore decided to clear the back log of trees in spring by organizing a big plant of 300 trees out in Paradise, near Glenorchy.

Mandy from the Paradise Trust was very helpful and allowed us to plant the trees on her idyllic property. A big Thank You is required for her and the lads (Steve, Si and Shano) for helping with the planting. Photos of this plant will be sent out to customers once the website is finalized.


Steve Bradley helps to develop the project.

Steve Bradley from the Queenstown Resort College has offered his time and expertise to help develop the organization. Steve has put us into contact with student Aaron McCormack who helped to build the Facebook page and Robert Clarkson who generously donated his time and effort to build the Sustaining Communities website for free. Yvonne Evans, also from Queenstown Resort College has agreed to help with the organization’s accounts. I would like to express our appreciation to all of these people, as without their hard work and generosity, this project would not be possible.