On Sunday, August 17th six members of our group had the opportunity to visit the Lao Disabled Women’s Development Center at their facility just outside Vientiane. This is a small, grass roots organization that sponsors disabled women from poor villages to live at the center for a year. The women learn job skills in computers, weaving, sewing and paper making. The beautiful products they make are sold to raise funds. The training gives the women the ability to earn a living once they return to their villages. Depending on the year anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of the women at the center are disabled due to injuries from cluster bombs.
In the late afternoon we met with the Mennonite Central Committee staff at their offices for a briefing and discussion about their programs in Laos. They have been working here since 1977 helping rural villages with health care, water and agricultural projects. The MCC was one of the first organizations to draw attention to the problem of unexploded cluster bombs in Laos and helped facilitate the first removal programs. The MCC staff prepared a great dinner for us as well!