lao food at yim yam by Matt Preston

Woman from Laos

For those who haven’t read my ‘About Me’ page, I’m from Laos. When I was five years of age, we left in the middle of the night in a small dinghy, across the Mekong River  to Thailand, to flee from the strict socialist regime which ruled Laos. The Pathet Lao controlled Laos and many thousands of Laos people, especially the Hmong were killed. We were some of the fortunate ones to be resettled into a country which offered us the chance to live in peace.

We have never gone hungry and have always had shelter. We had access to education and medical attention when we needed it. It’s not the case for a lot of the Laos people back in Laos. They’re still struggling. My family are constantly sending money back home to support family members who were left behind.

When I heard about the Women in Laos fundraising event in Melbourne, I naturally liked the cause and was curious to find out more about it. I don’t normally attend charity luncheons as I never know exactly how much money goes directly to the charity itself. In this case, a lovely Laos friend of mine asked me to attend promising wonderful Laos and Thai food. I’ll have to admit that Matt Preston, of the Masterchef series, was definitely a drawcard. I’ve only watched the first series of Masterchef and did enjoy it.

Traditional Lao

My friend also asked me to wear the traditional Laos skirt (Sinh), something which I have refused to wear since I was a little girl! It was not a stylish enough skirt for me as a youngster and definitely too ethnic for me as I headed into my adulthood. How silly was that! From now on, I’ll have no problems wearing one of these skirts to Laos functions – better late than never!

Yim Yam – Lao restaurant

So dressed in one of mum’s lovely Sinhs, I headed out to the Yim Yam restaurant on Smith Street Collingwood. It’s a cosy restaurant and the Women in Laos function was full. A Laos blessing ceremony started the event off. There is something quite intriguing about Matt Preston. He’s a big fellow, not sexy yet he is crowded by fans who adore him. Wearing a suit and his signature piece, a cravat, he happily answered some questions and posed for photos with starstruck fans. Even though some questions were rather dull, Matt answered them in a way which had you compelled to listen. This is what makes this man so popular and watchable. Think I’ll be watching the next series of Masterchef!

Lylah, the owner of Yim Yam, gave a demonstration of how to make my favourite dish – Som tum. This is a spicy salad which is hugely popular with Laos and Thai people. It’s normally made of green papaya and I could eat it every day! With so many people there, we were served a lovely buffet lunch. A return trip to Yim Yam will be needed for me to experience one of Matt Preston’s favourite dishes – the Yim Yam crispy rice salad. This dish was written into one of Matt’s cookbooks.

Women In Laos Charity

This charity is founded by Debbie Petlueng, a woman who had been working with Save the Children in more than 12 different countries. She fell in love with Laos and it’s people during a course of  a decade in which she lived and worked there. Now she wants to give something back. Her aim is to equip struggling single mothers in Laos with knowledge and skills to help improve their lives. To do so, Debbie believes a one on one approach over a course of over two years each is necessary to make significant changes to their lives.

To get started, Debbie is aiming to raise $100,000 initially so that she may hire and train two Lao women case workers who will work directly with Lao women in need. Some of the money raised will also go directly into assisting those in need. Please visit her page to read more or make donations.

Yim Yam Melbourne

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