My Lao language teacher is part of the local football club Wednesday FC. From what he’s told me it’s much more than just a football club - it’s more like a exclusive society. Wednesday FC play football every Wednesday. They’re a senior team so you have to be over 35 years old to play. Pretty much every player has a family.
My Lao teacher sometimes helps as a teasurer to collect membership fees from Wednesday FC members. He pools the money then puts it in a collective fund to be used to help individual members. If someone is sick or needs to go to the hospital, they can borrow some money from the Wednesday FC funds.
Members of Wednesday FC help each other out all the time. My Lao teacher needed a passport for his wife’s upcoming trip to America. Fortunately another Wednesday FC member works in the immigration department. He fast tracked the passport application and it was approved in only two weeks – I believe it usually takes about 1 month.
It’s interesting to see this kind of organisation form. It seems to be so many things at once. It’s an exclusive club, my teacher assures me they only good people join, a credit union, a sporting team and a family organisation. Perhaps it is because of the restrictions on forming formal organisations in Lao PDR that these kind of organisations exist. It’s an innovative way to provide a large number of services in an informal way.