On Thursday evening, I attended a event discussing cluster bombs in Laos at The New School. Did you know that Laos, my country of origin, is the most bombed country in the world? No worries, I wasn’t aware myself until a few years ago. My parents don’t talk about it much. My father mentioned a couple times to me that he used to hear the bombs dropping all the time. So I guess that makes me a refugee.
My family arrived in the US in September of 1983, when I was just four years old. We were smuggled across the Mekong river to a refugee camp possibly called “soon napo” Nong Khai, Thailand, before being allowed into the U.S. My baby sister’s nicknme is “soon napo” because she was born in the refugee camp. I am uncertain if we had political assylum or if it was a U.S resettlement program. My father was working for the U.S., making machine parts of some sort, during the Vietnam war. We have documentation from the U.S confirming this but my brother may have donated it to a museum.
I have very little memories of coming here. Maybe some random flashbacks of what i believe to be the refugee camp. I remember puking all over the plane from motion sickness since it was my first plane ride. I definitely remember the culture shock. Our family of 6, lived in a one bedroom apartment in a very rough neighborhood in Chicago. I remember abandoned buildings, needles in the alleys, and also used condoms. Why do i remember used condoms so vividly? I used the condom as a fishing net trying to get my goldfish out of my makeshift fishtank. Yes, I know, gross! I feel bad for the strange man who was trying to explain to a 6 year old(me) why i shouldn’t play with my disgusting fishing net.
Getting back to my point. I would like to start a fashion line with a social objective. I want a portion of our sales donated to assist in the removal of the cluster bombs in Laos. I know it wont’ make a huge difference but if every one of us contributes just a little bit, it can make a huge impact. Maybe I can one day even create a separate fashion line that is made by families impacted by cluster bombs in Laos. If you want to steal my idea, go ahead. I think it’s better to have more people join in on the efforts. I plan on visiting Laos soon for the first time since I left in 1983. I’m curious to see the true impact of the Vietnam war on Laos.
I was honored to meet Elizabeth Suda at the event. Her jewerly line called Article 22, is made from the cluster bombs in Laos. The jewelry is made by artisans in the area most affected by bombs. The video will explain all. I’m not the best writer at the moment but slowly, it will get better. Watch and be learn.