In Laos, villagers turn American war scrap into inventive tools.
By Karen J. Coates / Photo by Jerry Redfern
July 28, 2010
VIENTIANE, Laos — A scorching sun settled across southern Laos, as farmers burned the land to make new fields.
A woman hacked at weeds with two young children in tow, the heat of a nearby fire caking her in a sweaty, sooty film. She paused a moment, wiped her neck, then hoisted her hoe. Sitting behind her thatched hut was the casing of a 750-pound bomb made at Pine Bluff Arsenal, Arkansas. Its label was clear: “Special firework. Handle carefully. Keep fire away.”
Laotians everywhere continue to unearth American bombs, dropped nearly 40 years ago. Today, wartime remnants spark some of the country’s most creative construction and engineering. Villagers turn scrap into tools and utensils — everything from bowls to buckets, boats, spoons, knives, hoes, troughs, ladders, planters, cowbells, stilts and pedestals for satellite dishes. READ MORE