Where Phaythoun lives, in central Laos’ Khammaoun Province, there is massive contamination with landmines.
“Communities in this area [once] witnessed bomb explosions almost on a daily basis,” says Phaytoun.
Without knowing what the dangerous objects were, people picked them up and threw them or played with them. They sometimes collected and sold bombs, or even tried to burn them, he says.
“Since the training of volunteers in villages, we see fewer accidents, to almost none,” says World Vision project manager Thavone Phounnaly.
Community development has been hampered because fields and forests cluttered with munitions pose a daily threat to families trying to make a living by farming.
That’s why along with awareness training, World Vision cooperates with the Laos government and nongovernmental organization Mine Action Group to remove mines and certify land released for agriculture and development. So far, more than 1,000 acres have been cleared and more than 2,120 bombs and mines destroyed.
“My hope and dream for the future is to see my community in a better situation and have our communities and children safe from unexploded bombs,” says Phaythoun. “I would like our village to become a green community with lots of plantations. I want to see developed farmland and an overall community improvement. I dream that our communities can be self-reliant in the future.”
Photo©2014 World Vision, Nila Douanesouvanh