Duangchai, 23, grew up in family-like care in Laos. In 2021, she graduated university and founded her own business, refusing to let the challenges of the pandemic stop her. She also represents Laos as a member of the SOS Children’s Villages International Youth Coalition.
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the world. For many ambitious young people, life came to a halt; we started losing hope as our education, internships, every aspect of our life was badly affected. The first fear was to remain safe from the coronavirus, but there was always an anxiety about what next? How will we complete our education, when will we see friends again, how will I survive without a job? I was trying to put a lot of things together because I realized how important it is to have my own savings. Coming from an alternative care background and living in a semi-independent arrangement, I was assuming my future would be dark. Nevertheless, I was always a creative person and during the lockdown I decided to give wings to my ideas: I am now the founder and CEO of an eco-printing business. I promote my company through Facebook and put up stalls to increase my sales. To support myself financially, I secured a job in the hotel business after receiving skills training on CV writing and applying for jobs from SOS Children’s Villages in Laos. I aim to give back some percentage of my profits to them as I always received immense support from my village, especially my SOS mother. I also want to give training on eco-printing to my siblings there. All this turmoil made me realize how important it is to have a passion. It is equally important to learn some employability skills so that you can support yourself at a time of adversity. I invite all organizations working with young people to prepare us better for independent living. Start identifying passion in children from an early age and extend support. Provide entrepreneurship training so that we can bring change in our lives as well as in the lives of other young people. Improve the coping and self-management skills of young people and increase our general awareness about society and community. Make us civically empowered so that we can transition smoothly to independent living. I hope my story can make some young people believe in themselves more and encourage them to do just a little bit more because hard work pays off and with those extra efforts you can reach your goals.