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Interviews with our partners on the ground

VTE, Laos, 2019

I feel as if this is what all of my experiences - good and bad, personal as well as professional - have been preparing me for. It still scares me, but I know that if my father were still around, he would tell me to seize the moment, rise to the challenge, and grow into the role.

The UXO sector is a very complex one. Nothing is black or white, with many shades of gray. There’s so many players in the field and all make vital contributions to the overall work.

I see the sector in five main parts:

  1. The country leader

  2. The ground operators in the field

  3. The survivors and their families

  4. UXO-related businesses

  5. Legacies of War.

For progress in the sector to work, all of the partners need to be able to share information and collaborate harmoniously.

My father once translated for American soldiers. He was around 20 years old at the time and just finishing his studies before going on to medical school. He met soldiers who were lost in a village and were struggling to communicate with some villagers. He approached them and gave them directions.

His friend asked why did he help the enemies.

He used this story to teach me that no one is an enemy. Most people want an opportunity to do good and act in kindness. During times of war, most people are just taking orders and we cannot clump them into categories. “There are also Americans who care and are helping Laos.”, he said.

Nothing is black or white, all shades of gray.

Sera's Father, Dr. Sith Koulabdara, Mother, Tounekham Koulabdara & siblings, Bay & Kay Koulabdara

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