Houaphan, near Vietnam, was the province that had the highest number of accidents involving explosive remnants of war in Laos in 2018. In the village of Houayhou, some residents like Chue Por Vang, a 30-year-old Hmong farmer, and Kua Tcho Tor, 58, have paid a heavy price.
When he was a teenager, Chue's left arm was blown off by a submunition on his way home from school. He was walking with his brother when he came across a device that piqued his curiosity. "It was a very small object, round,” Chue says. “It looked like a small ball...”
After the accident, his family ran up debts to pay for his hospital treatment, which took five years to pay off. Today, Chue is married and has four children. He is outraged by the presence of unexploded ordnance buried deep in his homeland. "I'm angry," Chue says shyly. "My wife is the only one who can work the land, take care of our 14 cows, and do everything at home. I help as much as I can, but we depend on the land, and we struggle to feed our children. Our family helps us a lot, but our lives are very hard."
In the same village, Kua Tcho Tor, a 58-year-old farmer, and father of six, also lost his hand at the age of 12 when a "bomblet," a submunition, exploded as he was helping his parents to plant rice. Rushed to the nearest hospital, he only has a dim recollection of what happened next, but he does remember his family having to sell many of their cows to pay for his hospital treatment. "It was the end of the Vietnam War, but we didn't know anything about bombs and mines at the time. We weren't very wary," he explains.
"My life has been very hard. No one helped me except my close family. Today three of my children are already married. Without my family and my son, who does everything on the farm and takes care of us, life wouldn't be worth living. I'm very proud of him!"
Humanity & Inclusion in Laos
Since 1983, Humanity & Inclusion has helped victims of mines and explosive remnants of war in Laos. Our mine action team works to remove mines and educate communities about the risks posed by these weapons. Learn more about our work in Laos.
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