May 31. Worst War crimes ever?

Cornflakes and coffee, and it’s already ten. Lazy bastards, you think. Where’s the early morning gymnastics, the 2-mile-walk, the 150 pushups and the rigor-vigor?

Anyway, we visit COPE today and have a good look at the museum that displays handmade prostheses, we are talking about wooden leg, cast iron pparts nailed together with rusty nails, old bottles turned into a cast and wooden sticks. There was a man who used his homemade leg for thirty years before he received a real fitting prosthesis from COPE. They have a huge mirror with a leg in front of it where you can lean on with your knee, looking at yourself as a cripple. This makes us realize the dramatic changes in self-perception (and self-confidence) people have when the lose a leg overnight. Also on display are ‘bombies’, the contents of a clusterbomb that disperse over a huge area. And the big fife hundred pounders. More than 500,000 missions were flown during those eight miserable years of warcrime. It still outrages me, I mean the US should pay 100,000,000,000,000 to Laos for a start and then apologize every single minute for what they have done. Unlike in Vietnam, fighter pilots could just dispose their load at wish and did so to get rid of the frustrating restrictions in Vietnam. They bombed everything that moved. And now, thirty years later, millions of deadly bombies are scattered along the Ho Chi Minh trail and in other large areas of the country. Some areas are so saturated that in every village you find someone missing a leg – or a close relative. We also watch a video about clearing the UXO’s, starring a former Australian soldier who teaches a team of locals how to deal with the rusty old bombs.

Their donating concept is brilliant: you can donate a leg for 50 dollars. It cost 50 dollars to produce a leg prosthesis. We donate four legs and a “brick in the wall”, another great fundraising technique. They have a wall with virtual (plastic) bricks with the logos of sponsors on them. We have learned a lot and are happy when we return to the city.

We have to return the motorbike, and we bring our luggag to the center. We have to move on once again, and so we buy a bus ticket to Vietnam, but then I realize my visa is only valid from June 2nd, so we change the date. We have to stay another day, and we follow the book. There is a guidebook “stay another day” an every visitor to Laos should use it!

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