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A New Beginning for Cluster Bomb Victim

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Sponsored by Mike Boddington of Vientiane, Laos, and Elaine Russell of Sacramento, California, USA


Ta was the victim of a cluster bomb accident, which left him unable to support his family by farming and fishing. Please help Ta and Da Chomaly survive with a donation to build a minimart in two bays underneath their elevated home in the rural village of Ban Phonsaone, so they can earn a modest living. We thank you for your interest and kindness in advance.


Ta’s Story: In 2001, Ta Chomaly was a farmer and fisherman in a rural village in Laos before an unexploded cluster bomb accident changed his life forever. Ta lost his lower left arm, his right hand, and the vision in one eye, while his other eye was badly damaged. He was 28 years old with a wife and seven children. The US illegally dropped more than 270 million cluster munitions (known in Laos as “bombies”) along with other ordnance on Laos during the Vietnam War. Up to 30 percent, or about 80 million of the cluster bombs did not detonate and remain buried in the land over vast parts of Laos. Ta is among the more than 20,000 innocent Lao civilians killed or maimed by unexploded ordnance, primarily cluster munitions, since the war ended almost 50 years ago.


Ta was fitted with prostheses for his arm and hand, but was no longer able to farm or fish. He became a member of the Ban Advocates, a group of cluster munition accident survivors. For a short period, he was able to earn a small income as an activist supporting the adoption of the International Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the use of these weapons.


In 2006, Ta’s village and 17 others were relocated to higher ground due to the building of the Nam Theun 2 hydroelectric dam and power plant. His family received a larger home in the new village of Ban Phonsaone and 1.7 acres of land to farm. Over the years his wife Da and their children farmed the land and fished in the reservoir, but they barely got by. Their plot of land was insufficient to feed his family of eleven, including his parents. Without any irrigation, despite the close proximity of the dam reservoir, rice can only be grown in the rainy season once a year. While there were still forests nearby, they made charcoal to sell, but now the trees have all been cut down. Presently, only the youngest child remains at home farming the land and fishing, and all other viable means of earning a living are gone.


The initial investment for building and stocking the minimart underneath Ta’s home is estimated at $12,000 (US). This project will be overseen by Mike Boddington who lives in Laos.


For further information and a copy of the full project proposal please visit:



Mike Boddington worked for years in the field of disabilities and health care in Laos. He was Director at the Cooperative Orthotic & Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE), a Specialist on Disability and Rehabilitation at the Prime Minister's Office, Lao PDR, and former Technical Advisor Victim Assistance at Lao UXO National Regulatory Authority. He currently runs Jungle House, a bed and breakfast in Vientiane, Laos.


Elaine Russell served for six years on the board of directors of Legacies of War, a US-based nonprofit advocating for funding the clearance of unexploded ordnance in Laos and helping victims of accidents. She traveled to Laos with Legacies and several other occasions.She has written essays on the history of the war in Laos and its aftermath, as well as two novels set in Laos: Across the Mekong River and When the Tamarind Tree Blooms (forthcoming).


Elaine Russell
Sacramento, CA

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