What to experience?
Makphet in the Lao language means “hot chilli”, and you will recognise the restaurant’s sign easily, as it is a red chilli on a green background. It is part of Friend’s International who also have similar concepts of restaurants in Thailand and Cambodia.
Makphet is one of the best restaurants you will find in Vientiane. It offers delicious Lao fusion food that will show you another side of Laotian culinary arts. They have developed creative combinations of local flavours that will whet your appetite. Don’t forget to try their fabulous fruit and flower cocktails as well, with or without alcohol, such as hibiscus juice with ginger.
Not only will you experience a great treat, you’ll be satisfied to learn you’ve just been involved in the training of former street children, and that you are in fact in what is a teaching restaurant. You will learn about the programme set up by Friends International that trains them to cook well and with the highest standards of hygiene.
At the back of the restaurant, there is a small shop that sells handmade products created by the family of the children using recycled materials such as food packaging, drinking straws, rubber tyres, newspapers and magazines and cook books so once at home, you can treat your friends to a special Lao dinner.
If you have a bicycle or motorbike that needs repairing, consider taking it to the Friends International workshop where Lao teenagers have been taught how to repair a motorbike correctly … they will always be happy to help you.
How does it help?
It’s an uncomfortable experience to see bright-eyed, young children begging on the streets. Often our first reaction is to give money or to buy their postcards and flowers. But does this really help? Chances are it will only encourage the kids to stay on the street where they have little hope for a better life and are vulnerable to abuse.
Friends-International (FI) has been assisting marginalised urban children and youths since 1994. Fl’s objectives are to provide education, life skills, and employment tools to children, young people, and their parents to assist them in becoming active members in their societies.
By buying the handicrafts, you allow families to earn sufficient income so that they avoid sending their children to beg in the street. Dining in their restaurant will encourage kids to keep learning and to leave the street, gaining back a new pride in what they do and, a salary.
FI manages the ChildSafe Network, which is a child protection network that includes all members of the local communities and educates on the best actions to protect children. They also developed ChildSafe 7 tips to educate the travelling community on how to travel responsibly.