Tag Archives: uxo

Around the block: The UXO Museum

So I’m starting a new theme on the blog here called “Around The Block”. Some days I get to 11am and find Dominic looking at me and I swear he’s wondering whether it would be possible for me to get any more boring. So most days we take grateful advantage of the cooler weather here at the moment and go for a walk.

Last week, as I was walking him around the block, I thought I should take a camera and give you some glimpses of things we find on these daily perambulations. Today we’re going to start with the UXO (unexploded ordinance) museum, which is just around the corner from our house.

UXO museum entrance

Some facts about UXO in Laos…

Per capita, Laos is the most heavily bombed country, in history. Despite the fact that Laos was not officially involved in the conflict, more than half a million bombing missions were conducted over Laos during the Vietnam War in an effort to disrupt the supply lines between north and south Vietnam. During these missions, the US Airforce dropping 270 million bombs on Laos.

Up to 30% of these bombs failed to detonate.

About 80 million unexploded bombs remain in the ground, and about 25% of villages in the country are contaminated with unexploded ordinance.

Most of this UXO is related to cluster bombs. A cluster bomb is pictured below. Just one of those little balls can injure or kill a person.

A cluster bomb

Most years someone is injured or killed every day in Laos by UXO. Last year, however, the number of UXO accidents dropped to one injury or death every two or three days. Most accidents happen when children pick up these little balls, or when farmers disturb them while they’re planting or harvesting.

UXO Lao employs over 1,000 people and needs on an average US$6.5 million to cover operations every year.

No funny stories to end this post, just a link to the UXO Lao donation page. You can see that they’re not exactly up to speed yet in terms of web presence or leveraging international support, so if you would like to donate to UXO Lao feel free to write to me and I’ll try to help you figure out how best to do that.

Landmines, literal and metaphorical (Writing Wednesday)

On Monday I took Baby Bear on an outing to the UXO museum (unexploded ordinance), because it’s never too early in life to learn about cluster bombs. (Or because I was desperate to get out of the house and the UXO museum is just a five-minute walk away).

Dominic wasn’t all that impacted by the cluster bombs, he was far more concerned with the fact that I handed him over to the woman who was standing guard over the empty, one-room exhibit, and looking at him longingly. I figured that anyone who had to talk about landmines all day deserved a baby snuggle. Dominic wasn’t sure that he agreed.

More about the UXO museum later, but today’s Wednesday. Wednesday is for writing. Except… I’ve spent much of the last ten days poring over Book Baby with a fine-tooth-comb (for what is at least the tenth time) before I send it off for copy-editing. There’s not much you can do to make that process interesting to read about.

I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.
Oscar Wilde

Writing is a fairly lonely business unless you invite people in to watch you do it, which is often distracting and then have to ask them to leave.
Marc Lawrence

So for this week’s writing Wednesday I’m sending you over to GlimmerTrain’s website to check out Janis Hubschman’s list of ten craft techniques that have been most helpful to her on her own writing journey. The post is called Steal This List and I think it’s worth stealing (or at least saving so that you can refer to it when you hit a landmine in your own story).

To close, a conversation Mike and I had over the dinner table after my outing to the UXO museum.

Mike: “What did you think?”

Me: “I was surprised to learn that the number of landmine accidents in Laos is on the decline – from about one a day, to one every two or three days.”

Mike: “Yeah, but, still…”

Me: “I know. Can you imagine? I mean, how much would it impact our lives to lose a limb, or worse, in a landmine accident? And we’re not even technically dependent on our limbs to make money for our families.”

Mike: “If you lost an arm in a landmine accident it would slow down your writing … (pause) … which would impact our family income not at all.”

Luckily for Mike, I thought this was not only true but also funny.

Come back later this week to read about the UXO museum, or maybe joy. I haven’t decided yet. Thanks for dropping by.