The Saving Jar - by the Akha team

  Scene 1
  An aunt and her two nephews are cleaning their shop, which sells sweets and other small things. They are making a plan to improve their business. Each of the three, demonstrates their vision for the development of the shop. The aunt suggests to sell noodles because now it’s harvest time, and villagers don’t have time to cook themselves. The first nephew shows the others his idea of making a rice shop during times of rice shortage. The second nephew presents his idea of selling Lao whisky. The aunt and first nephew play guests and share some whisky with the 'shop owner'. Then they all agree that this is the best and most sustainable idea, so all of them celebrate by drinking more whisky and singing songs, until they all fall asleep at the table.
  Scene 2
  It’s early morning, and a woman cooks breakfast, feeds her animals and has breakfast together with her husband. The husband discusses pig rearing with his wife. Now the family only has one female pig and he would like to buy a male one, so they can start breeding. His wife argues that they don’t have enough money to buy another pig, her husband suggests borrowing the necessary money from relatives.
  Scene 3

A brother and sister are walking in the rain past the sweet shop and see the empty whisky bottles and ask the aunt and her nephews, what they are celebrating. The family continues sleeping. The sister and brother are cold and wet and decide to drop in on their relatives, the couple from scene 2.
They warm themselves by the fire. Their relative agrees to let them stay for a few days because the brother and sister lost the roof of their house in a monsoon storm.

  Scene 4
  The village chief, the Nai Ban, calls everyone to come to a meeting. Staff from a development project have arrived in the village. The Naiban tells villagers that the project has the idea to support this village in setting up their own bank. Project staff explain how the banking system could work and ask what the people think about the idea.
This idea of a village bank in which people could invest collectively and borrow money which they would pay back with interest, is new for the villagers. Some people don’t like the idea and say that their old way of saving by putting money in the jar and bury it in secret place. The project staff explain that the money doesn’t grow that way, whereas if they put money in a community bank that it would earn interest and grow by the end of the year.
The nephews are interested if they can borrow money to invest in developing their shop, while the couple who want to start rearing animals ask if they can spend the money on a pig. They are happy to hear that they can spend the money on whatever they want. The brother and sister are worried that they will not be able to pay the loan back and the interest as they are poor and need the money to repair the roof, which won’t generate any income for their family. The brothers echo their worry and ask what will happen if someone who has borrowed money cannot pay it and the interest back at the end of the year. The project staff reassures them that the village will decide what to do in each individual case. The village can decide to allow people to pay back their loan or interest later, if they have for example had a poor harvest.
The villagers agree to try it, especially as no one is obligated to borrow money. They select 1 accountant and 2 members to form a village bank committee.
  Scene 5
  After 3 months, there is another village bank meeting, the project contribute 100,000 Kip to each village bank family member’s account. The members also get their own bank account and savings books this time and if anyone want to borrow, they have to make a request signed by Nai Ban.
Now villagers carry out the activities they have planned before. The couple raises pigs and the aunt and nephews buy a lot of lao whisky for their shop. The brother and sister build a new house with the help of all their friends and neighbours. For this festive occasion they buy whisky from the new village whisky shop and celebrate by singing and dancing together.
  Scene 6
  After 6 months, there is another meeting with the village bank committee. This time people come to save and pay interest of loan to the bank. The brother and sister don’t have enough money to pay interest, so the committee discuss with villagers and decide they can pay it back after the next harvest.
The village bank committee announces the bank credit standing, the granting of new loan applications and the Nai Ban closes the meeting.