During the Vietnam War, more than 250 million bombs fell from Laotian skies, making Laos history’s most heavily bombed country per capita. 30 percent of these bombs failed to detonate and continue to threaten lives.
In a resourceful twist, artisans in Naphia village began melting down decommissioned pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and crafting the metal into spoons. Today, the community works with fair trade label Article 22 to make and sell a line of jewelry called peaceBOMB largely to a market where the bombs originated—the United States. Article 22’s founder, Elizabeth Suda, talks to Makeshift from the remote mountain village.
Makeshift: How did people in Naphia learn to melt the bomb metals?
ES: It’s quite mysterious. There was a man from Houaphan Province who found himself in the Naphia village in Xieng Khouang after the war. He was melting the metals and making them into spoons. Other villagers would watch the two men make the spoons, and they would take it up too. Right now, it’s being passed from one family to another, one generation to the next. On any given day you can go there and people will be doing this behind their homes. It’s such a creative solution of turning something negative and destructive into something useful and productive.