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Yaok, a Laotian boy who lost his leg to a decades-old bomb, competes with his friends in a ball game during a school break.

Yaok was 9 when a small bomb exploded near him, killing his brother, Vangsith, and three other children. Yaok and two others were injured. To save his life, his right leg had to be amputated.

Yaok says the bomb that took his leg looked like a rusty ball. It was just the sort of object a curious child would pick up to play with. He doesn’t remember anything about the explosion.

“When I woke up, I saw my friends dead beside me,” he says.

That was the beginning of a painful, fearful process of treatment and uncertain recovery— another reminder of the terrible legacy of war.

President Obama, during a recent trip to Laos, acknowledged the U.S. government’s role during the Vietnam War in making Laos “per person, the most heavily bombed country in history.”

The president also announced that America will contribute $90 million over three years to demining activities in Laos. The U.S. has spent about $100 million over the past 20 years to clear mines and prevent injuries.

Photo©2014 World Vision, Nila Douanesouvanh

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