All posts filed under: Development

President Obama’s Remarks in Vientiane: Acknowledging the People and its Past

(Artwork by Chantala Kommanivanh) I woke up this morning and caught my father listening to President Obama’s speech for the first time.  As a 27-year-old senior lieutenant of the Royal Lao Army who was trained at Fort Knox in the early 1970s, the scars of that era was traumatic as it was deeply lonely for my family. President Obama’s historic visit to Laos and his remarks in Vientiane is powerfully meaningful to the hundreds of thousands of Laotian diaspora who fled to seek new havens to call home. I’m echoing what many across the world are feeling this week: it’s a good time to be Laotian American. The momentum of President Obama’s visit to Laos is undeniable. In the over 60 years that the United States has established diplomatic relations with Laos, this is the first time a president is realizing the potential in Laos, as part of a crucial pivot and ‘rebalance’, as they put it, of the Asia Pacific region. While the U.S. is in Vientiane for the ASEAN Summit and other high-level meetings, President Obama continues to …

Submitted Story: Bouakham is dead

Bouakham is dead. She was born on 10th October 1960 and died on 29th February 2016:  55 years old.  She died less than one month after this photograph was taken. Look at the photo. You may be able to see that her right arm is wasted.  You cannot see that her right hand is locked in a fixed position.  That happened due to some set of circumstances that I have never been able to fathom, in the early-mid-1980s, whilst she was attending the National Rehabilitation Centre in Vientiane.  When this photo was taken she was already in later stages of kidney failure and her limbs were swollen due to fluid retention.  So her right arm, does not look as it normally did. You can see that she used crutches (only one in view).  That was because she did not have legs.  Well, her legs, below the knee, were amputated and she had prostheses. Of the four limbs with which she was born, only one remained in full and proper functioning. When she was 8 years …