How People COPE with Having Their Legs Blown Off In Laos.
Above Photo: Cluster bomb display at COPE’s Visitor Centre in Vientiane
COPE is a charity in Laos that supplies artificial limbs and carries out rehabilitation programmes for those who lose limbs to unexploded ordnance (UXO) from the Vietnam War. I recently visited their offices in Vientiane.
More than 20,000 people in Laos have been injured by UXO since the end of the Vietnam War, many of them children, and the main culprits are cluster bomblets, of which 80 million still remain unexploded in the country.
On entering COPE’s exhibition centre, the visitor is greeted by a display of falling cluster bomblets (see main photo), which quickly and graphically explains what they are and how they came to be so widely dispersed throughout Laos.
There is an impressive range of defused ordnance in the exhibition, as well as the most poignant display, counterbalancing the cluster bombs falling. This one involves old home-made legs from people the charity has supplied with new ones. Some of the legs were made out of jungle materials such as bamboo and hardwoods.
Others, ironically, were made out of UXO and war scrap.
On the way out we stopped to view a very informative video and then made a generous donation in the collecting box, which, appropriately enough, was in a false leg…
You can donate to support COPE’s work here:
For a modern-day take on the Vietnam War and Adventure Backpacking into the jungles of Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, see: http://peteralanlloyd.com/back-part-2/backpackers-meet-the-vietnam-war-back-screenplay-finally-finished/
For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
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