Media CenterCRS Welcomes President Obama’s Remarks in Support of Education and Nutrition in Laos

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Jennifer Hardy
Catholic Relief Services
Asia Regional Office, Phnom Penh
[email protected]


New investment will fund education programs.

VIENTIANE, LAOS, September 6, 2016 – President Obama, in Laos for the 2016 Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting, offered remarks today the United States will invest additional aid for education and nutrition programs in the country. Part of that support will include $27.6 million over 5 years for Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) critical nutrition and education programs for children in Laos. As the most heavily bombed country in the world, the Southeast Asian nation still suffers consequences of the Vietnam War. With childhood stunting at 40% as well as challenging learning environments, the new funding will go toward improving the quality of children’s literacy and nutrition.

CRS, one of the major organizations providing relief and development in Laos, welcomes this critical assistance, provided through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) McGovern-Dole Food for Education program.

The U.S. government award will provide a nutritious hot lunch to all students attending primary schools in targeted communities, and ensure that 40,000 children in 350 primary schools receive increased literacy instruction as well as have access to improved water and sanitation facilities.

“This project is not only about school lunches. It’s about improving educational outcomes in some of the poorest communities in Laos,” said Bernie F. Chaves, CRS’ Country Representative for Laos. “Access to a nutritious lunch will help to increase enrollment and school attendance.”

CRS will also provide extensive training of teachers to improve the quality of education that children receive.

“We’re committed to supporting the government of Laos in achieving its Sustainable Development Goals in the education sector,” Chaves added. “This project will not only contribute to achieving that goal, it will help children to thrive and prepare this region’s next generation of leaders.”

Operating in Laos since 2007, CRS also works in the unexploded ordinance (UXO) sector, focusing on issues of UXO risk education as well as providing assistance to victims of UXO accidents. CRS also helps to improve access to education for children living with disabilities. CRS believes that every child has a right to education and works with the government of Laos to increase the number of children living with disabilities who can attend schools.


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit or and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief@CRSnewsYouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.

Jennifer Hardy

Associate Director, Global Communications

Jennifer Hardy
September 4, 2016

Based in Boston, Massachusetts

Jennifer Hardy is Catholic Relief Services’ Associate Director for Global Communications. She previously filled the role of Regional Communications Officer for Asia, where she worked as the point person for media, actively connecting journalists with engaging stories about CRS’ work throughout Asia. Jen traveled extensively throughout...More