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Sera Koulabdara,

“My father taught my siblings and I that what you leave behind is so much more important than what you take. During my father's last days; he shared painful memories of the devastating impact the Secret War had on him and the people he loved. These horrific experiences led my father to live a life full of love, compassion, and service to others — I hope to carry his legacy to the next generation, create hope, and make a positive difference in the lives of people in my father's beloved homeland, Laos.”

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My Story

Sera Koulabdara (Sa-rah Goo-lap-dah lah) (She/Her) fled bomb contamination in Laos at the age of 6 and now serves as CEO of Legacies of War, the only international U.S.-based  advocacy and educational organization working to address the impacts of the American Secret War in Laos and conflict in its neighboring countries of Cambodia and Vietnam during the Vietnam War-era, including the removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and victims assistance. 

Under Sera’s leadership, U.S. funding for UXO clearance in Laos reached $45M - the highest level in history and the Legacies of War Recognition and UXO Removal Act was introduced by Senator Baldwin (D-WI) and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS).  Legacies of War also received the inaugural Humanitarian Award of 2022 given by the Lao PDR for its successful advocacy efforts in securing funds for bomb removal and victims assistance.

Sera is relentless and has broken down barriers in establishments and spaces that lack the voice of someone who is directly impacted by the legacies of war. She earned a seat and became the first Lao-American to participate in the 20th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Convention. By unanimous vote, Sera was elected to serve as the Chair of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions Coalition starting in 2023. Sera is the first BIPOC, millennial, and person with lived experience in an impacted country to take on this leadership role.

Check out more from Sera:

'I don't want it to happen again': Don't send cluster bombs to Ukraine. Just look at Laos.

Why the U.S. sending cluster weapons to Ukraine is divisive

Ukraine’s Cluster Bomb Dilemma — with Sera Koulabdara, Romeo Kokriatski and Danny Postel

Laos 50 Years On

Ukraine's vaunted 'bread basket' soil is now toxic

International Women's Day: Columbus International Women's Day

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