A picture says more than thousand words. I will try to tell in at least less words. The picture was taken this morning on a busy street. Everyday Lao people, rich and poor, old and young, but also foreigners, diplomats, NGO workers, business people, are passing buy. So they know it, but may not see it.
It shows a lot of Lao's problems. First of all young women with kids, often without a husband (he may have gone to Thailand or just left her, sometimes take even the kid). For women it is still hard to find a good job, if they have a kid but not married, it still is a stigma.
Then, there is garbage. Vientiane is dirty, very dirty. Even if there is garbage collection, people just put their baskets and bags full of trash in front of their house, so neighbors dogs can play with it (they love to eat diapers they took out and distribute all over the street). So the trash is just out there for days. Rats like it, and other animals. Nobody cares. It seems that as long as the garbage isn't in from of the gate, it isn't bothering anyone.
At last, there is the open fire. Lao people love open fire. This one had dark black smoke, indicating that ingredients are not just paper and gardening waste but plastic. So the woman with her baby just inhales this smoke without having any idea about the threats.
Everyday government officials, NGO workers, diplomats see this. They don't care. They may discuss campaigns, but even if some were realized, they failed (maybe they wrote brochures in English?).
The picture taken in the middle of the capital also shows, that Laos is far from becoming a modern country. It is still developing from a very low level. Education is the biggest issue. Money cannot buy knowledge and, more important, understanding of knowledge. Only if you understand what you learned you can turn this in action.
All my Lao friend know about this as well. But one mentioned: "My mother insists on open fire as this is the tradition." Old habbits die hard, is a saying. In Laos, it is also a common excuse.