Project Phongsali 2011: Correspondents from D.C. Everest Middle School will help us connect with students and staff.

March 5, 2011
Project Phongsali 2011: Correspondents from D.C. Everest Middle School will help us connect with students and staff.

Week Five Day Thirty: We Help War Victims has ardent supporters among students in the D.C. Everest Area School District, Schofield Wisconsin. The Everest district, like many others in central Wisconsin, has a diverse enrollment that includes ethnic Hmong and Lao families that arrived as refugees from the Indochina War. While many refugee families...
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Project Phongsali 2011: Illness hits children especially hard. With no medicine villagers rely on spirit ceremony alone.

March 4, 2011
Project Phongsali 2011: Illness hits children especially hard.  With no medicine villagers rely on spirit ceremony alone.

Week Five Day Twenty-Nine: Nobody seems to have a handle on what illness has claimed the lives of four children in Kiew Ka Cham village, and sickened many others.  (Symptoms suggest one of three likely viruses: whooping cough, diphtheria, and influenza).  Thus far, the deceased have all been young children between six weeks and...
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Project Phongsali 2011: In one small village four children have recently died. Not bombs… illness. But what illness?

March 3, 2011
Project Phongsali 2011: In one small village four children have recently died. Not bombs… illness.  But what illness?

Week Four Day Twenty-Eight: As our deminers continued clearing the schoolyard in Kiew Ka Cham village I observed four men working in a stand of trees not far away. When I first spotted them, they were taking turns with a shovel, either digging a hole or leveling a mound; I didn’t have a clear...
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Project Phongsali 2011: When clearing a schoolyard we’d rather be thorough than efficient.

March 2, 2011
Project Phongsali 2011: When clearing a schoolyard we’d rather be thorough than efficient.

Week Four Day Twenty-Seven Today we’re clearing the schoolyard in Kiew Ka Cham village.   It’s slow, tedious work since searching for UXO in a heavily trafficked area, such as a school or marketplace, involves excavating a substantial quantity of non-lethal contamination: nails, washers, bolts, bottle tops and fragments of exploded bomb casings. As...
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Project Phongsali 2011: The victims we help are people with families, jobs, hopes, dreams, skills and interests. Meet Mr. Bouncham: beekeeper.

March 1, 2011
Project Phongsali 2011: The victims we help are people with families, jobs, hopes, dreams, skills and interests.  Meet Mr. Bouncham: beekeeper.

Week Four Day Twenty-Six We’re still plugging along at Mr. Bouncham’s farm, searching for bombies and marking them for demolition. The rocky soil here is challenging but may, in the end, prove to be an excellent training ground for our novice deminers; they must excavate methodically, deliberately, economically, always alert least they mistake a...
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Project Phongsali 2011: Construction company uncovers bomblets, uses contaminated soil for fill, and then tells landowner to live with the hazard.

February 28, 2011
Project Phongsali 2011: Construction company uncovers bomblets, uses contaminated soil for fill, and then tells landowner to live with the hazard.

Week Four Day Twenty-Five I took an immediate liking to Mr. Bouncham, even before I learned that he was a fellow beekeeper.  He’s a happy-go-lucky sort who, like me, enjoys an ironic joke.  When asked whether he felt anger toward the United States because of the bombs that currently plague him, he quickly dismissed...
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Project Phongsali 2011: The photos tell it all. Company builds road without first clearing bombs!

February 27, 2011
Project Phongsali 2011: The photos tell it all.  Company builds road without first clearing bombs!

Week Four Day Twenty-Four It’s become clear to me why so many villages are littered with old bomb casings that still contain fuses, boosters and other dangerous components. The construction company that is rebuilding the road that runs through the southern districts of this province is working on uncleared land and is, as one...
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Project Phongsali 2011: We go where UXO threatens people even if it means a day-long hike.

February 26, 2011
Project Phongsali 2011: We go where UXO threatens people even if it means a day-long hike.

Week Four Day Twenty-Three One important lesson for anyone who has a job that requires following a Lao farmer into the forest to look for ordnance (or bamboo shoots, or a lost water buffalo, or anything else). If the farmer starts out, takes a few steps, stops, contemplates, and then returns to his house...
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Project Phongsali 2011: The UXO that people want us to remove are large bombs. 500, 750 and even 2,000 pounders.

February 25, 2011
Project Phongsali 2011: The UXO that people want us to remove are large bombs.  500, 750 and even 2,000 pounders.

Week Four Day Twenty-Two We’re not quite through our first week of work with the complete team, but I’m beginning to see a pattern emerging that will require us to adapt and adjust. Most mornings we’ve headed out of camp intending to search schoolyards and destroy any ordnance that we find lurking under foot....
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