Laos, December 2019 I’m in an unusual position as someone who was born in Laos and am now a proud citizen of the USA. What will the Laotian government think of me? Will they consider me Laotian? Do they despise me for being American? What will they think of the way I look and sound? Will they understand me when I speak in Lao? Am I wearing my sinh correctly? I had so many questions. I was nervous and wanted to make sure that I represented Legacies well and earn the trust of the leaders of Laos. I prayed that they would understand how much I love Laos and want to help and do what’s best for the people.
Our first meeting was with the National Regulatory Authority (NRA). The NRA is “responsible for the regulation and coordination of all operators in the country working on the impact of unexploded bombs, artillery shells, grenades, landmines and like ordnance. The overarching aims of the NRA are to enable all people in Laos to live free from the threat of UXO, help promote national development, and see UXO victims fully integrated into their societies and their needs comprehensively met.” Right when we stepped into the NRA office, we were warmly welcomed by the Director General. Although he is new to his role, I sensed how sincere and knowledgeable he is of the sector and it was inspiring to hear him speak about the future of the NRA’s work. I anticipate more collaborations with the operators on the ground and a central location for collecting survey and clearance data.