Updated: Jul 30, 2022
Savannakhet Province, Laos, 2019
Over 20,000 people have been killed or injured since the bombing ceased. There are still accidents to this day and our team had the opportunity to meet a few on this trip. We must clear Laos and care for survivors and their families.
The first person that I met was “Grandma Seesom”. Her story is one that will stick with me forever. Grandma Seesom was in her 20s during the Secret War. She remembers the noise, screams, and hiding in the caves with her family. One was a new born baby boy.
Grandma Seesom sharing her story with the Legacies team.
Over 45 years later, she was just performing a routine chore that she has been doing for years in her backyard. Only this time, an explosion occurred leaving Grandma Seesom injured and in the hospital for over a week. How can this happen? Grandma Seesom was only trying to cook for her grandchildren. She’s been cooking at that same spot for years with no incident. This time, she almost lost her life. As she recounts her story to our team, she had to relive the trauma. Her voice broke as tears flooded down her face. “I thought I was gone. I thought I wouldn’t see my grandkids again.” I tried to console her. Holding her hands, all I can think to say was, “you’re still here, you will be here a long time”.
I know that my words are not enough. I have to continue to build awareness and tell Grandma Seesom’s story. We cannot forget that people are still suffering from the remnants of war and it is important that they receive the help that they need and deserve.
There are many others that have suffered in recent years doing daily tasks like collecting wood, or scraps in the forest. These stories are important and we must continue to do our work so we can achieve zero injuries and deaths by UXO.
Despite everything that has happened, grandma Seesom's spirit is high and her heart is full of hope for the future.