Laos is one of the most beautiful and peaceful countries in the world, with the kindest and gentlest people you'll ever meet (but we're half Lao, so we might be a little biased!) We keep meeting more and more people who have travelled to South-East Asia and fallen in love with Laos too. However there is a little known issue very close to our hearts, that it's time to speak about.
It's 39 years since the end of the Vietnam War, but the war is not over for Laos. The US government dropped more than 2 million tons of bombs on Laos, and 80% of these UXO's (Unexploded Ordinance) still remain. The contamination of UXO's is the major cause of poverty in Laos, preventing people from being able to carry out the basic necessities to live; such as growing crops, farming animals, building water supplies, schools and reaching healthcare.
A MAG warning sign
Death and injury from UXO is a part of everyday life in Laos. “We can find anywhere from zero bombs a day to 60 bombs a day,” Manixia says. Manixia is part of a pioneering team of Lao women clearing bombs. “I understand that my work is very dangerous, but it’s work on behalf of the community and that’s why it’s so worthwhile.” Everyday, women and men like Manixia carry out their dangerous work, they go out into the fields with metal detectors, when the signal goes off, they dig down to investigate, and demolish if they find it is a UXO. They work 21 days straight, then have 1 week off.
Manixia with her son
THE FINCHITTIDA FINCH MISSION
We have partnered with an organisation called MAG to support these women and men. MAG specialises in helping conflict-affected communities to reclaim areas contaminated by landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive items.
Every piece of Finchittida Finch jewellery purchased helps remove a UXO from Laos and rehabilitate the effected community, ensuring the locals are educated about the UXO's and get the right training and equipment to carry out this work safely and effectively. So not only will your purchase mean the effected areas are made safe, but it will also make sure those affected have the support and resources they need to re-build their lives long-term.
BUYING A PIECE OF FINCHITTIDA FINCH JEWELS MEANS:
- communities are safe again
- people can once again farm their land, enabling them to produce food and an income for their families
- it is possible to build basic necessities like water supplies & schools
If you didn't manage to read our whole post, then this video helps to sum it up
• There was more than 580,000 bombing missions on Laos between 1964 - 1973
• That's equivalent to one bombing mission every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years
• More bombs were dropped on Laos than by all sides during WW2
• Giving Laos the official title of history’s most bombed country, a country that was actually declared neutral in the conflict
• An estimated 30% of the bombs still remain live in the ground
• 25% of Lao Villages are still affected by the remaining bombs.
• All 17 Lao provinces suffer from unexploded ordnance (UXO)
• More than 20,000 people have been killed or injured as a result of UXO accidents in the 39 years since the war ended
• an average of two casualties every single week
• 40 per cent of total casualties were children.
Interview with Manixia by
@Jake_Hanrahan : Laos Is Still Under Attack from Its Secret War | VICE