Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Retired WI principal aids UXO removal in Laos

A nice article from the Wausau Daily Herald about Jim Harris, a retired principal of Weston Elementary and his wife, a retired English and art teacher.

They formed the non-profit We Help War Victims to hire a bomb removal team to work in the Lao province of Phongesali that has received no official help in removing the unexploded bombs from the war for Laos (1954-1975)

He first went to Laos when he was still a principal to learn more about the culture of his Hmong students and the country they came from. Since retiring, over the last four years he's been volunteering with Phoenix Clearance Limited which specializes in UXO and mine removal.

During the war for Laos, more tons of bombs were dropped on Laos than were dropped on all of Europe during WWII. 3 out of 10 failed to detonate and now, over 35 years later, they continue to kill and maim Lao civilians and children even after the end of the war. Many of these victims today weren't even alive during the conflict. At the current rate of removal, some experts expect it will take 500 years to get rid of all of them.

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