Updated: Jul 30
Sepon, Laos, 2019
There are many businesses, arts and films that are exploiting the stories and history of the Secret War to generate profit. This tragic history is very delicate to so many people—my family lived through it and its horrific past still haunts us to this day.
Coming to Laos has been very difficult for me but I knew it was something I had to do. The country, the history, the people are part of my heart and soul and I must confront the past to build a future.
Although I did not personally live through it, my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles’ experience is in my blood. With every story that they share, they take me on a journey through time.
Our Founder, Channapha Khamvongsa, comforting me as I process my feelings.
I share their pain and their loss. Loss of their family, youth and home.
I truly believe that most people are well intentioned. They see something wrong or unjust in the world and they want to help. Most don’t have a clue as to what they should or want to do. They simply want to do something.
Before I left for Laos, I scheduled a meeting with a young photographer from San Diego named Dakota. Funny, two Americans meeting in Laos! When Dakota first learned about the Secret War, he was shocked. I remember his words.
“How can my country have done this?”
I sensed the emotions in his voice and was inspired by his curiosity to learn more and see how he can help. We chatted over coffee and I learned that Dakota is working on a photo book about the Secret War and his hope is for it to inspire action.
Sera, Shiraz, Dakota, and Bay having coffee and conversation about Dakota's project.
Before I took my last sip of coffee, I turned to him and said, “You know that if you tell the story, you have to stick with it until the end. It will become a part of you and you are now responsible.”
“Yes, I understand. And I want to take my time, research, and do it right.”
He's on to something exciting, I can feel it.
We left the cafe. The coffee was good.