COPE Vientiane is a non-profit organisation in Laos which provides prosthetic limbs, mobility assistance and rehabilitation for Lao people who can’t afford it. We took a look at their visitor centre in Vientiane, Laos’s capital, this morning. It was one of those incredible places that had me rushing home to get a post written and published straight away.
Cluster Bombs in Laos
Were you aware of any of this?
- Laos is still suffering the effects of the horrific bombings in the 1960s. Over 2 million tons of ordnance were dropped on Laos between 1964 and 1973, about 30% didn’t explode. Laos is still littered with UXO, people die and are horrifically injured, still, today.
- Last year, 2012, 4 children died when they made a fire in their garden. The unexploded bomb had been lying in the ground for years, the heat of the fire detonated it.
- People die when they are gardening, farming or searching for crabs in muddy rivers. People, often children, die searching for scrap metal to sell.
This is one type of cluster bomb, a casing containing hundreds of small bombies or bomblettes. Dropped from the air they spread to cover a large area. 80 million active bombies remained in Laos after the war.
COPE Doesn’t Only Help Bomb Victims
COPE Vientiane provides around 1300 mobility devices every year, including prosthetics. They don’t only deal with amputees, they help children with congenital malformations, too.
They deserve your support.
Visit the COPE centre in Vientiane, admission is free. You can buy something from the shop or make a donation to help support them.
You can find more information about fundraising for COPE here.
The COPE visitor centre is a small museum but a fantastic one. It’s not at all harrowing and it’s very suitable for children. They can touch, handle and try out the mobility devices on display. My children learnt a lot this morning. So did I.
I already knew that Laos is the most bombed country per capita IN THE WORLD. We’ve seen parts of bombs used as flower pots, decorations and recycled into useful objects all over Laos. I didn’t realise that the bomb casings we saw were from cluster bombs. I didn’t ever really know what a cluster bomb was.
Most countries in the world have banned the use of cluster bombs, the United States, Israel, Russia, China, India and Pakistan haven’t. Doesn’t that say a lot? Find out more about the campaign to ban cluster bombs here.
The young man in the picture was there this morning at COPE Vientiane. He has lost his sight and his hands. He is part of the global campaign to ban cluster bombs.