All posts tagged: Channapha Khamvongsa

When the idea of a bomb-free Laos became possible: An interview with Channapha Khamvongsa

Unexploded ordnance (UXO) are explosive weapons that did not explode when they were dropped and still pose a risk of detonation, many decades after they were used or discarded. About one third of Laos remains contaminated with UXO left behind from a Secret War bombing campaign  during the Vietnam War era, including about 80 million cluster munitions. The majority of victims are children, who mistaken them for toy balls. It started with hand drawings from survivors. Black bombies littering the sky. Red markings everywhere. Farmers running across the green fields. These drawings would be the start of what would lead to learning about a lost history and one woman’s passion to advocate what many thought would be the impossible: a bomb-free Laos. “Can you imagine? Being the person below, looking up and watching the sky fall over you?” -Channapha Khamvongsa, Executive Director of Legacies of War She fights against UXOs. She hearts food more than you and me. And she is an ally for Laos. You know this Lao woman. “Who isn’t her friend? She’s everybody’s best …

Behind Every Lao Community is a Strong Lao Woman

It’s 5am. Mom quietly shuffles in to pick up baby Coraline. Her hands plagued with age and diabetic stiffness carefully cups Coraline’s little head against her chest.  She sways and sings a lullaby. Mellow and sweet, it pierced my memory bank. Where did I hear that before? Familiar. Comforting. An hour passed by. Then I woke up wondering how I fell asleep. Mom laughs. Then quietly remembers. “When the soldiers drove us to the labor camps, you were only a year old. You broke out in hives and couldn’t stop crying. I tried everything. The driver threatened me that he would put a bullet in your head if I didn’t soothe you in one minute. Then I sang and sang and sang my heart out. You finally stopped crying. It was the only lullaby that saved your life.” There’s a Lao saying that your first guardian, your first teacher, and your first love is your mother. My mae is my earth and my moon. That’s the power of being a woman. So when we think …