If you’re in the New York City area, don’t miss what is quite arguably the Lao’dest international affair in the city on Saturday, December 5th. With the majority of attendees from the Lao American community, over 200 people are expected to show up in fashion at Legacies of War’s “Laos in NYC: Fashion Meets Philanthropy”, the most anticipated fundraising and UXO awareness event of the year at NYC’s Civic Hall. Hailing strong collaboration with some Lao American heavy-hitters such as delicious eats from Chef Phet of the acclaimed Khe-Yo to the creative eyes of Monica Phromsavanh of ModaBox. There’ll be old and new friends of Legacies, coming from all sectors, from over 10 states, and Canada and Laos. We chat with Channapha Khamvongsa, Legacies of War’s Executive Director and organizers about the significance of the event as the Lao community’s 40th commences.
On the idea of fashion, food and philanthropy:
We’ve all admired and respected each others’ work over the years and it was finally just the right time to collaborate. And it’s been really fun and meaningful to work closely together. Some of us have this shared history and understanding as refugees. I think we understand the struggle and how important it was that others cared about us and helped us. We are inspired to do what we can to help those back in Laos to feel safe and have opportunities to live a full and happy life.
On the key speakers at the event:
We’re very honored to have H.E. Dr. Khiane Phansourivong, Permanent Representative of the Lao PDR to the United Nations and Another Quiet American author, Brett Dakin, who we are honoring for his service as a board member, and now adviser, for over 10 years of leadership.
The significance of this event to the Lao community:
It’s been special to work with the Lao American community in NYC, who have led the planning process with such passion and commitment. It’s been inspiring and energizing. Many of the people have never met other Lao Americans in NYC before this, and now they’re seeing each other frequently. People are connecting regularly and there’s a real sense of a growing and active community here in New York.
On 2016 and why fundraising is necessary to continue the work:
We hope to raise $25,000 to help cover the cost of our education and advocacy programs in 2016, which promises to be an historic year. President Obama will visit Laos, the first United States president to ever do so. We want to make sure that the UXO issue is a priority issue during his visit.
We hope that people will learn more about the problem of UXO in Laos and how they can help to make a difference. We also hope that people from across the country will make new friends and keep in touch, hopefully leading to many more collaborations and events like these.
Event organizers on why the UXO cause is important to them:
“For a greater part of my life, I was completely unaware about the history of the secret war in Laos. Laos wasn’t ever really discussed much in American history classes. My parents never spoke of it & the rest of my family lived half way across the globe. Once I became aware, I felt compelled to share the truth about my story, my family’s and so many more. The residual effects of this war need to be brought to the forefront of geo political awareness in order for Laos to move forward. The victims are people and children that didn’t ask for this and few have the means to eradicate it themselves. So for this, I’ve committed myself to doing what I can to help Legacies get the message out.”
-Oudomphone Breeda Phoummany, Manager of Global Spirits
“My family faced many hardships leaving Laos during the Secret War. I was lucky enough to make it to where I am today, and so I find it very important to do what I can to protect the innocent families still living in danger today. There are millions of unexploded bombs continuing to threaten their safety.”
-Monica Phromsavanh, CEO & Founder of ModaBox
“I’ve known about the UXO situation in Laos for a few years now and the more I learn, the angrier I feel about what has happened to my motherland. Yet, I serendipitously fell into volunteering for this event and, as life would have it, it has really inspired me to work for a positive change in Laos. It’s been awesome meeting and working with other Laotians in NYC and beyond, as well as other supporters of this cause. I even have my students volunteering to help because they are all recent immigrants themselves and empathize with the cause since they too come from places that are riddled with war, corruption, and the like. It’s really a beautiful thing!“
-Sunisa Nuonsy, High School Educator
“History does not end with a date. The war lives on for the people of Laos through the unexploded bombs that litter their land and threaten their lives. But this fact cannot be the definition of Laos and must be redressed through the clearance of those bombs to make the land safe for a positive and productive future. Our work creating Peacebomb jewelry in partnership with the artisans of Ban Naphia in Xieng Khouang, one of the most heavily bombed provinces, is about working toward that future without forgetting the past. It is about transforming those negative pieces of war into meaningful and beautiful objects of peace. ”
-Elizabeth Suda, Founder of Article 22
-Chanida Phaengdara Potter, firstname.lastname@example.org