Untold Stories of an Unknown War
For over fifteen years the American CIA conducted a secret war in Laos. This war had devastating impacts on millions of the poorest citizens of Laos. Impacts that are still felt today. In addition, as directed by the CIA the US military dropped bombs and herbicides over vast regions of the country, giving Laos the distinction of being the most bombed country per capita in the world. But very few know of this history and the ongoing impacts of the war on the land and the people.
Jacqui Chagnon, one of WLP long time colleagues and current board member, is traveling throughout southern Laos to gather stories of ordinary Lao before the generation directly impacted by the Secret are no longer able to share their story. Southern Laos along the Ho Chi Minh trail is still one of the poorest parts of the country. Many villages are inaccessible duirng the rainy season and hard to reach during the dry season due to lack of roads and bridges.
This digital storytelling project will capture and archive the eyewitness memories of ordinary Lao citizens from all political persuasions and ethnic groups who experienced pre-war, war and post-war Laos.
A common story among those already interviewed is that villages along the Ho Chi Minh trail in southern Laos were well off before the war. Families had numerous heads of cattle and plenty of food. During the war they had to hide from the bombing and spraying in caves or holes in the mountains. The war destroyed their villages, their cattle and their livelihoods causing deep poverty that they have not yet been able to recover from.
Our goal is to register and archive this digital video and photo collection in the Library of Congress as well as in an archive in the Lao PDR. Excerpts of the interviews will also be edited and available on-line.
You can help! If you spent time in Laos during the war or post-war era, contact WLP at email@example.com and share your story. Or help us to gather stories in Laos by donating to the Untold Stories project.