Legacies of War is returning to Minnesota this week as part of the latest leg of their national speakers tour, Voices from Laos.
Among those who will be speaking this time are Manixia Thor, who is the leader of an all-woman demining team in Laos. Another speaker is Thoummy Silamphan, who lost his left hand when he was 7 years old to a cluster-bomb explosion. He now serves as a Victim Assistance Advocate in Laos. Less than 2% of the 80 million cluster bombs still left over in Laos have been cleared so far since the bombing ended 40 years ago.
The speakers have already presented at the United Nations, California, Oregon and Seattle, and on April 21-22nd they’re coming to Minneapolis, where the Lao community has been organizing events annually since 2010. Notable events in the past have included the Legacies of War: Refugee Nation Twin Cities multidisciplinary exhibit at Intermedia Arts, which drew over 1,000 people. The Lao Minnesotan community has also had exhibits at the Hennepin County Library, the Loft Literary Center, and the Harrison Neighborhood Center to raise awareness of unexploded ordnance that still remains in Laos.
In Minnesota, the Voices from Laos tour will be presenting at the Buasavanh Restaurant in Brooklyn Park and at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. You can learn more at http://legaciesofwar.org/voices/cities/minneapolis/
Legacies of War is the only U.S.-based organization dedicated to raising awareness about the history of the U.S.Vietnam War-era bombing in Laos. Their mission includes advocating for the clearance of unexploded bombs, providing space for healing the wounds of war, and creating greater hope for a future of peace.
This has been a very busy week for the Lao Minnesotan community which recently finished celebrating the traditional Lao New Year at the Crystal Community Center and many of the Lao are going to the International Conference on Lao Studies this week before coming back up to Minnesota for the Legacies of War events.
Minnesota has the third largest Lao population in the United States, with over 12,000 people, many living in North Minneapolis.