Over the last several years I have been working on a plan to support the work of clearing unexploded ordnance in Laos. Laos is a small country in between Thailand and Vietnam and is profoundly contaminated by American cluster bombs (see photo below) still littering the ground 50 years after the Vietnam War. The best estimate is that there are about 80 million explosive “bombies” (see photos) which remain lethal. Starting in early 2022 I have taken on financial support of a clearance team working in a central province of Laos, and my sabbatical goal is to learn as much Lao language as I can. That in turn will equip me better to learn and tell the story of this work, the need for it, and the people who do it, and go on to raise funds to help support that work into the future. I hope this sabbatical learning can happen in Laos, because I’d love to immerse myself in the language and the culture, and because it’s a place I love being. But maybe Northern Thailand will be more accessible given Covid-related border difficulties. And if necessary, I’ll learn on-line from Bath. It’s a strange thing to be ten days away from potential departure and to know my goal but not, given the state of the world, be clear about what plans will work and what will need to pivot. I invite your prayers, and I hope I’ll have stories worth telling when I return at the beginning of May! In the meantime, khop chai (thank you) for the amazing gift of this time.
Here are two pictures. One is a cluster munition, one of 80,000,000 to be found and destroyed. The second is shell casings used as decoration outside a rural health clinic.