War-era ordnance kills and maims hundreds of Laotian villagers each year. Eighty-five percent of victims are men, leaving numerous women to fend for their families..
By Karen J. Coates / Photo by Jerry Redfern
Aug. 22, 2010
VIENTIANE, Laos–Five years ago, 24-year-old Yue’s husband, Lue Ha, hit a bomb while foraging for medicinal herbs in the jungles of northern Laos. The accident blinded him.
Since then, Yue, who only goes by one name, says, “Ooh, there are many things that have changed.” She feels “like two or three persons in one,” having to care for her husband and two young children. “The greatest difficulty is everything in the family became mine–husband’s job became mine. Children’s job became mine…I just tried to grow very little rice for the family. And I also did a little embroidery to sell and earn money.”
The couple could not maintain their farm, so Yue’s husband studied massage through an aid group in Vientiane, the country’s capital. Afterward, he opened a massage business in a tiny Phonsavanh apartment where the family of four now lives.
“Since I’m blind, it’s hard to earn a living,” Lue Ha said. He gets on average two customers a day who pay about $3 a session. “It’s not really enough because we have to pay for rent, electricity, water.” If no one shows up, “I don’t earn,” he said. READ MORE