Being back in Wellington means I miss out on the end of the Lao school year. Each year groups of students go on field trips and begin again in September, which is the normal Lao school year.

I arranged with Mandalao Elephant Sanctuary for some students to visit their sanctuary where elephant welfare is what they are all about. Students also got our to other sights around Luang Prabang – places they otherwise could not afford or be able to go to, so it’s wonderful for them to have the opportunity.

Most of the students had only seen elephants from afar, so it was indeed wonderful giving them the opportunity to get close to the animals and be able to feed them and touch their skin.

The staff at Mandalao were wonderful and very informative and a staff member talked in Lao and English, giving the students some important information about the elephants in Laos. The decline in elephant numbers is still continuing and the number of elephants in Laos is now below 1,000.

It was a joy to see the faces and anticipation of the students as the elephants approached them and they fed them with bananas and sugar cane. I think they all managed to feel the rough skin of the elephant and some were even brave enough to give them a hug.

In the words of two students ……”Today, I went to visit Mandalao. I feel very happy because it’s the first time to touch elephant and I take a photo with them. Thank you very much.”

“Thank you for the new experience. This is my first time to see elephants. It’s amazing! I’m very happy. Thank You.”