Your purchase clears bombs in Laos - the most bombed country per capita on earth:
* This calculation is based on the average amount of land cleared by one MAG bomb-clearance team working in Khammoune province in Laos over one year.
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Our Mum’s homeland of Laos is the most bombed country per capita on earth. It is almost unknown that the Vietnam War left Laos with this legacy. Our Mum grew up during this war, at the age of 16 she risked her life to escape from her war-torn country.
From 1964 to 1973, the U.S. dropped more than two million tons of ordnance on Laos - this is more than the total bombs dropped on Europe during the entirety of World War II. And is equal to a planeload of bombs dropping every 8 minutes, 24-hours a day, for 9 years.
This year marks 40 years since the end of the Vietnam War. But the truth is that Laos is still suffering the consequences of that war to this day. About 30% of the 270 million submunitions dropped on Laos failed to explode, and remain live in the ground, having a detrimental impact on the men, women and children who risk being killed or injured every single day.
The unexploded bombs and explosive devices that remain live in the ground are known as UXO (unexploded ordnance), this term covers all types of bombs, artillery, grenades, mines, cluster munitions, mortar shells and rockets. The UXO pose a continuing obstacle to much of the population and their ability to sustain themselves.
UXO is one of the main causes of poverty in Laos, making the land too dangerous to grow crops for food and to provide a source of income for families. The UXO also makes the land too dangerous to build water supplies, schools and healthcare services. Even playing outside and walking to school is a danger for children who are often attracted to the toy-like devices.
All-female MAG bomb clearance team
Learning these heartbreaking facts changed everything for us. We’ve put the mission to clear Laos of bombs at the heart of our fashion label - Finchittida. Partnering with MAG (Mines Advisory Group) - a UK humanitarian bomb-clearance organisation, we help to bring awareness to the UXO problem and fund their bomb clearance operations in Laos with every sale of our products.
We believe in the power of combining fashion with purpose, fashion has a huge global reach and influence, so our aim is to harness that power for good. At Finchittida, we thrive on creating trailblazing fashion that combats and brings awareness to global issues, creating a greater future for all. We are part of the new generation placing purpose at the heart of what we do, because we believe the true value of a brand is its impact in the world.
In 21 years MAG has made around 44 million metres² of land in Laos safe of UXO, destroying more than 180,000 explosive devices. But there’s still a long way to go until Laos is free of UXO. At the current rate of clearance, it will take hundreds of years to clear all the UXO in Laos.
Last month, we had the opportunity to spend time with MAG in the Xieng Khouang province of Laos – this area has the worst UXO contamination. We can hand on heart say that the MAG teams are the most courageous, selfless and (incredibly) humorous people we’ve ever had the honour of spending time with. We kept asking, “How can you be so happy in such a devastating situation?” And they all shared the sentiment that there is no point being sad when we're all doing our best to resolve the problems.
Most of the MAG Laos staff have been directly affected by UXO, the team leader of the all-female bomb-clearance team told us how her father had been killed by UXO in his rice field just after the war ended. Then two generations on her grandson was recently hurt by UXO – the same unexploded cluster munitions that killed her father decades ago.
We were moved to tears by the bravery we witnessed and the terrifying memories shared with us from people who had not only lost their limbs and/or sight from UXO during the Vietnam War, but had also seen their siblings, parents or friends killed in front of them by UXO since the war ended.
The fact that innocent people are still being killed or injured by weapons of war 40 years on can’t be ignored. And that’s why MAG means so much to us.
Thanks to MAG - the rate of death and injury has declined. MAG work on three levels: clearing bombs, educating communities on how to deal with the bomb contamination - through Mine Risk Education, and supporting grassroots organisations to create sustainable development in Laos following the bomb clearance.
MAG’s work has enabled more than half a million Lao people to regain access to their land, so they can farm, grow food, build homes and simply walk to school in safety.
Later this year we will be releasing a short film directed by Gavin Toomey, about our unforgettable trip with MAG Laos.
In January 2015, we spoke at TEDx about changing the world the fun & sexy way.