In the past few days Elaine, Linda and Pon and I had quite a journey. Car X includes the Legacies of War team that independently ventured on our own in Savannakhet, Laos lead by UXO Lao. Our trip surveyed the ongoing battle to remove UXO from a province with the highest concentration of bombardments. Savannakhet province is located in southern Laos and the eastern half reaches towards Vietnam where the famous Ho Chi Minh Trail flows. We started in Savannakhet on route 9 heading towards Sepon. In our two day trek we witnessed UXO clearance, visited with a father of a 10 year old victim of UXO explosion, stepped foot on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, experienced first hand the painstaking task that UXO Lao roving team face daily and make sure a young boy gets treated for his leg injury.
We first were met at UXO Lao headquarters lead by Mr. Soubin Phasouking who lead the way to the various different locations. Our first stop was in Muang Pin to witness the procedures in UXO clearance. The path along route 9 is paved but the meandering side roads we take lead us to the horrors of living daily with life threatening risks. We first went into the deep jungles of a village where we come upon the a team that shared with us the steps to take in detecting UXO.
Next we meet with a family member of a boy who died from playing with a bombie. He was 8-10 years old. His friend another 10 year old boy had shrapnel stuck in his thigh and we were able to assist in pooling our monies together to help the families out. The boy is doing better. We also were got to see UXO education at a primary school where they had a puppet show about the dangers of UXO.
On the next day we went to the Ho Chi Minh Trail and along the way saw a war memorial museum that that has remnants of land to air artillery and bombs. After that we headed to the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Ban Dong Phou Vieng.
We finally ended our day in Vilabuly, after another long drive into the deep forests of northeast sector of Savannakhet province. Hidden amongst a wall of bamboo groves and flora we came upon a beautiful field rice where we witnessed a UXO Lao roving team detonate some bombie in the village along the mountainside.
In a short few days we were witness to the very difficult task of dealing with removal and clearance the UXO team must encounter everyday.