Decades after the Vietnam War, 80 million active bombs are still littered across Laos.
Of the 250 million bombs dropped on the nation over a nine year period (1964 to 1973), these are the ones that failed to detonate during over 590,00 bombing missions, leaving active, unexploded ordnance scattered everywhere.
One company has decided to move in and work with locals not just to to clear the land of those mines, but help sustain local communities in the process.
ARTICLE22 works with local artisans to create “peacebomb” jewelry made from—you guessed it, detonated bomb scraps—provided by local foundries who receive it from families who own property where metal has been de-mined professionally. It is also brought to them by local scrap collectors.
Much of the material is found by farmers, which the U.N. Good and Agriculture Organization estimates to account for 29% of Laos’ Gross Domestic Product. Of that number, 93% of working women are in the agriculture industry.
Over 1 million people live in what is known as rural poverty, and more than a third of its population of nearly 7 million people live under the national poverty line.
Named after the 22nd article of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, ARTICLE22 offers women (and men) a different option: the chance to make jewelry rather than work long nights on farms just to feed their own families.
“Peacebomb jewelry provides artisans with additional scrap metal to make more jewelry that will sell and clear more land,” said Founder Elizabeth Suda. She added that the designs are “a virtuous circle which tells a transformation story of negative into positive.”
In total, two million tons of ordnance was dropped on Laos, so there is a large supply—but if they ever ran out, they’d welcome non-war related scrap metal as a material; and, a portion of all proceeds goes to the local Village Development Fund, which gives loans to poor families in the area.Share this article: