Project Sekong 2013: Before she’ll help us destroy a bomb, a girl makes us do her chores!

April 4, 2013

We visited a school and asked students if anyone knew of problem ordnance near their village. Sure enough, several girls told us that their friend had come upon a cluster bomblet while collecting bamboo shoots. None of the girls new the location of the bomblet; we would have to talk to their friend who just happened to be absent that day. So, off we went to find the girl and, possibly, her bomb.

We found the twelve year old, at home, healthy and hard at work. She told us that she’d rather be in school but she had too much work to do. Her parents, out working in the fields, would expect her chores to be completed when they returned. If she found some spare time, she would start cooking dinner.

She confirmed that she had recently found a cluster bomblet but she declined to lead us to it. How could she? With so many chores to do? With dinner to cook? If she had time to spare, wouldn’t she be in school with her friends?

There was only one solution. The men started working under her direction. One guy fetched water. One slopped the pigs. Another fed the chickens. Two guys pounded rice. In half an hour we had all her assigned tasks completed, freeing her to take us to the bomblet. But… there was still one, final concern. It wouldn’t be proper for her to go into the woods with seven men. She insisted that we return to the school and recruit several of her classmates to accompany her on the trek.

All in all, she came out smelling like a rose. Her parents would be pleased that her chores were done. Her teacher would excuse her absence from school. Her friends would be impressed that seven adults, an American among them, were beseeching her for help. And, her village was rid of a dangerous bomblet. Not a bad end of the day for a girl caught playing hooky.

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