Good Works in Laos

Manophet Rice Paddy

Manophet in a rice field near the Plain of Jars

I never do this, but I’m asking people to check out a few sites that do good work related to Laos, and possibly consider donating to them.

The first, The Plain of Jars Project, was recently brought to my attention by its founder, Jon Witsell. This is borne directly out of the Lone Buffalo Foundation, named after Manophet Lonebuffalo, who I wrote about on this blog a couple of years ago after I learned that he had passed away from a stroke (and far too young). 

I met Manophet in the town of Phonsavanh in 2009 on a trip that was very meaningful to me. I only knew him for a few days, but he made an impression. I saw some of the good work he did with children and teenagers, teaching them English in his home and coaching football (soccer) in the field across the road. Those were his evening jobs. In the day, he also worked for the Japanese Mine Action Service, which helps remove the bombs that the US dropped on Laos during the war years. He was also an excellent tour guide and a single father of three boys.

He seemed to touch the hearts of many, and it’s no wonder that the people at The Plain of Jars Project would want to continue the good work he did. They have a fundraiser at The video below explains their goals, which include teaching boys and girls English, soccer, and awareness of avoiding unexploded ordnance (UXO).  Continue reading

Lingering Effects of the War in Laos

Destroyed temple in Moang Khoune (Xieng Khouangville)

The Lao National Regulatory Authority (LNRA) recently released an impressive, 106-page report on the victims of unexploded ordnance (UXO) over the last few decades. The authors, Mike Boddington and Bountao Chanthavongsa, and all of the associated researchers should be commended for this invaluable contribution, which documents in a systematic fashion the damage done by the war. Researchers covered more than 9,000 villages in Laos (95%), collecting retrospective data from interviews with residents about injuries or deaths caused by mines, large bombs, mortars, bombies, etc. from 1964 to 2008. In all, the report found that more than 50,000 people were injured or killed by UXO in Laos, though the authors acknowledge that this is likely an underestimate, perhaps by as much as 20%. Results revealed that Savannakhet and Xieng Khouang provinces were the two most affected in terms of the number of casualties, which makes sense, given their strategic and geographic importance in the southern and northern parts of the country, respectively.

Continue reading