The Humpty Dumpty Insitute Hosts a Landmine Education Tour to New Orleans, LA
March 8, 2010
Members of the delegation included Songkane Luangmuninthone, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to the United Nations, Channapha Khamvongsa, Executive Director of Legacies of War, Assistant Program Manager Emma Smith, from the U.S. Department of State, and Program Manager for Mine Action Michael Blood from HDI. Each participant gave individual presentations followed by a question and answer session to educational institutions in New Orleans about steps being taken by the United States and the international community to combat landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in general, and in Laos specifically.
Each presentation began with Ms. Smith giving the U.S. government’s perspective on the issue of landmines and UXO worldwide, and of UXO removal activities in Southeast Asia. Ms. Khamvongsa followed with a description of how this issue became relevant to her, a Laotian immigrant at the age of 5, and what Legacies of War is doing in terms of advocacy and education regarding this issue. Mr. Blood followed with a presentation on HDI’s UXO eradication and school-feeding activities in Laos. And Mr. Luangmuninthone finished with a Laotian perspective about the effect that UXO has on his country.
The delegation first visited Benjamin Franklin High School, followed by two college presentations at Dillard University, a historically black university, and the University of New Orleans. The conversation at Dillard University was particularly lively with the students of Dr. Robert Collins, Dean of Social Sciences, and Dr. Nchor B. Okorn, Professor of Political Science, probing for answers to the role of the U.S. government in the original problem and then subsequent role in the solution. One student asked how it was possible that the issue of Laos was not more of a frontline issue in American history and politics.
A working lunch took place with Congressman Cao (LA-02) and representatives from the New Orleans World Affairs Council and the New Orleans World Trade Center. Congressman Cao, a member of HDI’s Congressional Advisory Board, is the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress and is very aware of and active about the UXO issue in Laos and Vietnam. Congressman Cao expressed support for HDI’s work in the eradication of the tragedy of UXO and called the U.S. responsibility to help eliminate UXO a moral imperative.
Funding for this program was provided by the U.S. Department of State, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.