Wednesday morning and we head out once more in the van to the office of World Education in a house on a small street downtown across from a beautiful temple. World Education has been working for many years in Xieng Khouang and southern Laos to provide education on UXO accident prevention through school curriculum and outreach to villagers. They have developed a curriculums with books, puppet shows and art exercises that teach children about the dangers of UXO. They also help pay for medical costs and quality of life rehabilitation, for example working with children who have been injured by using drawing activities to encourage them to talk about their feelings. They provide economic grants for affected families, such as purchasing livestock or providing job training. Some of this funding comes from the Leahy War Victims Medical Fund passed by the U.S. Senate.
They described the long reaching affects on families when one member is injured by UXO. Because the Lao government does not provide health care, families often have to sell all their livestock to cover medical costs. Disabled adults may not be able to work any longer. When children are hurt and require lengthy medical care in Vietiane or even Thailand, one of the parents or an older sibling must go with them, resulting in a loss of income or an older child dropping out of school. I think it is hard for Americans to fathom the far reaching impacts that the UXO casualties create, but which the Lao people must live with every day. All of the organizations we have been meeting with are making inroads but the needs are tremendous.