Today QLA met a UXO survivor in hospital who was injured by UXO when burning near his house in Kham District, Xieng Khouang Province on 5 October 2016. “Mr K” is a 26 year old married man and has a young baby. He sustained shrapnel injuries to his right eye and left arm. The shrapnel has been removed, but the next few weeks will determine whether or not he has lost the vision in his eye.
Mr K’s sister-in-law was injured by UXO in 2003 and has since lost her life from complications of her condition.
As far as QLA is aware, Mr K’s accident was the 11th UXO accident in Xieng Khouang Province this year and he is the 17th person to be injured.
QLA will support Mr K’s treatment for as long as necessary. Thank you to DFDL Legal & Tax for funding the treatment of Mr K and other UXO survivors this year.
President Obama Speaks to the People of Laos (Cultural Hall, Vientiane, Laos, 6 Sept 2016, published by the White House)
President Obama Delivers Remarks at the COPE Visitor Center (COPE Centre, Vientiane, Laos, 7 September 2016, published by the White House)
Obama honors victims of American bombings in Laos (7 September 2016, CBS This Morning)
President Obama spent his second day in Laos visiting a northern city known for its Buddhist temples. He also visited victims of American bombing from the Vietnam War and promised more money to help them. Margaret Brennan reports from Vientiane, the capital of Laos.
Victims of Laos’ Forgotten War (Xepon, Laos, 7 September 2016, Financial Times)
Laos is still littered with unexploded bombs from the Vietnam war. The FT’s Michael Peel visits Xepon on the former Ho Chi Minh trail to talk to people who have suffered personally and see the clear up operation.
Brett Dakin, Legacies of War (CTV Your Morning, September 8, 2016)
Brett Dakin discusses President Obama’s historic announcement and what it means to those who have fought to address the legacies of war in Laos.
Laos still feeling the effects of the Vietnam War (Laos, 5 September 2016, CBS Evening News)
President Obama’s trip to Laos is the first by a sitting U.S. president. He is expected to address a once-secret bombing program the U.S. led in the Vietnam war that Laos is still feeling today. Adriana Diaz reports.
Bomb Hunter In Laos Dismantles Leftover U.S. Bombs (Laos, 10 September 2016, AJ+)
Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to visit Laos, where millions of unexploded American bombs dropped during the Vietnam War are still claiming lives to this day.
“Millions of People in Laos Still Live in Fear” as Obama Pledges $90 Million to Clean Up U.S. Bombs (8 September 2016, Democracy Now)
As President Obama becomes the first American president to visit Laos, we look at the legacy of the U.S. bombing campaign there during the war on Vietnam.
On 23 March 2016 a UXO accident occurred in Paek District, Xieng Khouang.
While burning off to clear her corn field, Ms ‘X’ a 25 year old mother of 3 children was injured when a UXO exploded from the fire. She was standing about 2 metres away at the time and sustained a deep shrapnel wound which impacted on her liver and caused breathing difficulties. Ms X’s sister in law who was with her at the time of the accident took her by motorbike to a local medical clinic, where the doctor referred her to the provincial hospital. Ms X’s family then hired a rental vehicle to transport her to the provincial hospital where she immediately underwent surgery to have the shrapnel removed.
QLA visited Ms X in hospital and met with her family to provide support (including payment of medical and associated costs) and will continue to do so for as long as necessary. We wish Ms X and her family well.
The UXO accident Nengyong was 31 years old and married with four children. In April 2012, Nengyong was cutting a tree in his field in preparation for planting corn when he hit a UXO that had been sitting inside the tree trunk for decades.As a result of the accident Nengyong lost his sight. He was treated in hospital for several weeks.
Nengyong’s wife Mai Khang told QLA that since the accident he had been very upset because he was blind and could not farm or support his family. He told her that dying would be better than having to rely on her to take care of him.
In June 2012 Nengyong killed himself. Mai Khang woke up to find that he was not in bed. She searched through the house and then went outside to find that he had hanged himself from a mango tree. Although she immediately cut him down and cried out to the neighbors for help, he was already beyond help. Nengyong left behind three young sons and one daughter.
Although there is no way to undo this tragedy, QLA will continue to have contact with Nengyong’s family and endeavour to assist as much as possible.
An alternative form of livelihood
After Nengyong passed away, MaiKhang had to stay home and care for her children, so QLa arranged for her brother-in-law to attend animal raising training on her behalf in June 2013. QLA provided a small grant to buy animals for raising and MaiKhang opted to buy some chickens. MaiKhang now has 30 chickens and 40 chicks which can be sold or used at Basi ceremonies (significant religious/spiritual events). This shows that MaiKhang has made good use of the previous small grant.
In response to reading Nengyong’s story, QLA received a private donation from a family that wanted to help this family specifically. QLA met with MaiKhang to determine the needs of her and her children. In August 2014 QLA arranged the purchase of school uniforms, shoes and school books for the three children of school age and the payment of school fees. MaiKhang’s roof was in such a state of disrepair that the kitchen was unusable. QLA arranged for the purchase of roofing materials and several members of MaiKhang’s extended family assisted with putting on the new roof within one week of purchase. QLA also provided a grant for MaiKhang to buy two pigs, to generate income and a few bags of rice so she could feed her family until income from the pigs was realised.
MaiKhang is very thankful for the assistance that QLA has given and said that now the essential things that were worrying her have been taken care of, she hopes that life will be easier for her and her children. She also said she would like to see QLA provide this type of assistance to other families of UXO survivors and UXO victims.
The donating family has indicated that if the children attend school regularly and receive a good school report they will consider funding the education costs again next year and in subsequent years.
The Yang family’s visit to Phonsavan to buy school uniforms and shoes. From left: Souk (10yrs) DouaOng (12 yrs), YengJouk (2yrs), MaiKhang (32 yrs) and KaLai (8 yrs).
YengJouk inspects the quality of the rice!
Khamkhone, President of QLA’s Board of Directors, hands over the school books, rice, roofing materials and funds for education and the purchase of 2 pigs to the Yang family. The Head of the village (left) supervised the event. The oldest boy, Souk, was at his grandmother’s that day.
Channapha Khamvongsa (Legacies of War) has been a tireless advocate for UXO victims for many years. When in Xieng Khouang during her visit to Laos from the USA, QLA introduced Channapha to Mai Khang in March 2015 after which Channapha’s advocacy work was a feature article in the International New York Times and Mai Khang’s story was one of several included in the article.