Project Sekong 2014: People fear cluster bomblets but some self-appointed experts will attempt to harvest material from them.

February 26, 2014
Project Sekong 2014: People fear cluster bomblets but some self-appointed experts will attempt to harvest material from them.

The round, orange cluster bomblet we call the BLU-24 is favored by fisherman because it is more easily opened than other bomblets and holds enough explosive to fashion several fishing bombs from old food tins and small lengths of detonation cord. I’ve met fishermen who have boasted of the many fish their homemade bombs...
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Project Sekong 2014: When humanitarian clearance is lacking, villagers sometimes put themselves at risk.

February 25, 2014
Project Sekong 2014: When humanitarian clearance is lacking, villagers sometimes put themselves at risk.

There was a time when clearance organizations trucked their own supply of TNT across the country and then stored it in one of several approved depots, usually at a military base. Most recently the government has insisted that the explosive travel only on their...
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Project Sekong 2014: In a land with many heartbreaks Lao children still have fun!

February 18, 2014
Project Sekong 2014: In a land with many heartbreaks Lao children still have fun!

The setting: a steep hill of hard-packed clay lightly coated with gravel. The sleds: a flattened cardboard box, a lid from an old bucket and a crushed water jug. Who cares about a little road rash when you’re having fun with your buds!
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Project Sekong 2014: We partner with the Lao Disabled Peoples Association to lead villagers to help in Pakse and Vientiane.

February 17, 2014
Project Sekong 2014: We partner with the Lao Disabled Peoples Association to lead villagers to help in Pakse and Vientiane.

Vong knew he had no future as a farmer. He was born with a deformed leg that makes walking difficult and arduous labor in the rice paddies impossible. He’s unlikely to marry well, if at all, and a farmer without a helpmate has, as...
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Project Sekong 2014: A new employee with little experience around UXO forgets what might be underfoot!

February 16, 2014
Project Sekong 2014: A new employee with little experience around UXO forgets what might be underfoot!

While I was distracted See, my newly-hired interpreter in training, wandered off the work site. He reappeared some minutes later immensely pleased with himself. He carried a wounded bird in one hand and a slingshot in the other. I had no idea that he...
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Project Sekong 2014: When a sturdier footbridge is needed villagers employ unique skills!

February 15, 2014
Project Sekong 2014: When a sturdier footbridge is needed villagers employ unique skills!

I recently wrote about a thrifty, improvised bridge, rudimentary in design that, nevertheless, repeatedly bore the weight of the many Lao adults who trotted over it. I was halfway across the span when it collapsed under my weight, dropping me in the muck. It...
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Project Sekong 2014: This is a land of rivers, streams and makeshift bridges—safe for a Lao hiker, unsafe for me!

February 15, 2014
Project Sekong 2014: This is a land of rivers, streams and makeshift bridges—safe for a Lao hiker, unsafe for me!

The Western world is getting fatter. So is America. So is Jim Harris. For some masochistic reason, at home between trips to Laos, I step on a bathroom scale every morning and watch my number steadily climb northward even though, lacking will, I have...
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Project Sekong 2014: Last night someone built a campfire over old ordnance. The device, hidden underground, heated up and exploded.

February 14, 2014
Project Sekong 2014: Last night someone built a campfire over old ordnance.  The device, hidden underground, heated up and exploded.

It’s always unnerving to hear a bomb explode after hours. Say…we’re all eating lunch in the field, or dinner in camp, or sitting around the campfire on a chilly evening. An explosion can only mean a mishap in the village, and possibly the loss...
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Project Sekong 2014: Sometimes the guys lark about, boys in spirit if not in age.

February 13, 2014
Project Sekong 2014:  Sometimes the guys lark about, boys in spirit if not in age.

We began work after lunch by hiking into to a miserable site. We first spent half an hour stumbling around at the top of a ravine looking for a safe route down. We couldn’t find so much as a rabbit run in the dense...
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