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Project Sekong 2013: Buddhist Temples And Monks

March 8, 2013
By Jim
Project Sekong 2013: Buddhist Temples And Monks

Laos is largely a Buddhist nation. In communities throughout the country, in villages, towns and cities, Buddhist temples are a prominent fixture and the monks who reside on temple grounds are a common yet colorful sight. In the early morning hours, usually just at the break of day, monks will walk single file through...
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From the Vientiane Times: “Interplast medical team reconstructing lives in Laos”

March 6, 2013
By Jim
From the Vientiane Times: “Interplast medical team reconstructing lives in Laos”

Some 88 people suffering from severe burns or other disfiguring conditions have received free surgical treatment, thanks to the support of the Interplast Australia and New Zealand medical team . Surgeons from Interplast and Mahosot Hospital met yesterday to evaluate their surgical achievements during their10 day working stay in Laos from February 18-28. Director...
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Project Sekong 2013: Nearly Half Of All Victims Are Intentionally Handling UXO

March 4, 2013
By Jim
Project Sekong 2013: Nearly Half Of All Victims Are Intentionally Handling UXO

Here’s a tree stump on which people have placed four pieces of unexploded ordnance. Clearly, somebody decided that moving these items was worth the risk. Our team would handle two of the pictured items warily; the other two items, both cluster munitions, we will not move under any circumstances. Why did someone take the...
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Project Sekong 2013: This Time Of Year The Hills Are Aflame

March 2, 2013
By Jim
Project Sekong 2013: This Time Of Year The Hills Are Aflame

The Lao government is trying to discourage the age-old practice of “slash and burn” agriculture. Most Lao farmers consider the method, also called “swidden agriculture,” to be essential to maintaining their way of life. By employing fire to remove the vegetation, cut by hand and dried in the sun, a single family can clear...
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Project Sekong 2013: Lao Children Learn By Doing And Are Assigned Work At An Early Age.

February 28, 2013
By Jim
Project Sekong 2013: Lao Children Learn By Doing And Are Assigned Work At An Early Age.

It must be difficult for Lao parents who migrate to the west, to establish reasonable boundaries for their children. In Laos, there is little observance (or even understanding) of the concept of “childhood” as we know it in America. People here are young or old, big or small, but youth are not assumed to...
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Project Sekong 2013: Leprosy, once known as Hansen’s Disease, can be cured but some fear the stigma so they delay treatment

February 26, 2013
By Jim
Project Sekong 2013: Leprosy, once known as Hansen’s Disease, can be cured but some fear the stigma so they delay treatment

It’s especially heart-breaking to meet people in Laos who have lost limbs or vision to leprosy (the illness previously called Hansen’s Disease). Heart-breaking because victims of this disease, if treated promptly, can be spared its ravages. Patients undergoing treatment, consume three different kinds of antibiotics over a six to twelve month period. The earlier...
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Project Sekong 2013: People Often Ask Us For Help Because There’s No Other Help To Be Found

February 24, 2013
By Jim
Project Sekong 2013: People Often Ask Us For Help Because There’s No Other Help To Be Found

After we move into a village and set up camp, word spreads quickly that an aid group has arrived. People who are desperate for help often find their way to us in the hope that we might have knowledge or resources that can improve their lives. In the past we’ve been approached by people...
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Project Sekong 2013: Two Different Approaches To Clearing Unexploded Ordnance

February 20, 2013
By Jim
Project Sekong 2013: Two Different Approaches To Clearing Unexploded Ordnance

There are, basically, two kinds of unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance. The form that probably comes most readily to mind is “area clearance,” in which technicians sweep an area with metal detectors, searching for ordnance. From a distance the techs might well appear to be using equipment similar to that sold on the consumer market....
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Project Sekong 2013: Some pay a premium price for a lucky phone number. I just want one I can remember.

February 18, 2013
By Jim
Project Sekong 2013: Some pay a premium price for a lucky phone number. I just want one I can remember.

I’m comforted by the research that shows that, like me, a great many Americans struggle to remember their phone numbers and passwords. Apparently the only password used more frequently than 123456 is the word “password” itself. When I bought my SIM card for my Lao cell phone I rifled through a tall stack of...
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Project Sekong 2013: Yai, our interpreter for seven years, finds a way to rejoin our team. But…are we lucky to have him?

February 16, 2013
By Jim
Project Sekong 2013: Yai, our interpreter for seven years, finds a way to rejoin our team. But…are we lucky to have him?

I was just about to begin interviews to hire a new interpreter when I got a call from my long-time sidekick Yai: he announced that he had worked out an arrangement with his new employer and would again join our team when we head south to Sekong.  He’ll take a leave to help me...
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