Thoummy Silamphan on stage at the 1MSP opening ceremony. Photo: Elaine Russell
Among the many benefits of attending the Convention on Cluster Munitions, is the opportunity to reconnect with individuals we met on Legacies first trip to Laos in 2008. On that trip we visited the province of Xieng Khouang, one of the most heavily bombed areas during the war. I wrote an entry at the time for our blog about a meeting at World Education/Consortium offices where we met two young men. Both had been injured by cluster bombs as young boys. Bounmy had been digging a fishing pond for his family when he hit a cluster bomb and lost his left arm up to his elbow. Thoummy, was only eight years old when digging for bamboo shoots, he hit a cluster bomb and lost his left hand. Both were volunteering with World Education to help other victims of UXO accidents. They were extremely shy at the time, but shared their stories, and at dinner, told us more about the challenges they faced with their disabilities. We all admired them a great deal for their commitment to helping others.
I was so pleased to see both young men at the Convention here in Vientiane this week. They now have jobs with World Education and have become advocates for UXO victims in Laos. It was very exciting to hear Thoummy give one of the speeches at the opening ceremonies on Tuesday morning. He was no long shy. His speech was short, but powerful and perfectly delivered with a clear and steady voice. What a long and successful road he and Bounmy had traveled to represent the many, many victims of UXO.