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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Visit to Laos
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Phongsavath Souliyalat, who lost his hands and his eyesight to a U.S. cluster bomb on his 16th birthday. This meeting happened on July 11, 2012 during Secretary Clinton's visit to the COPE Center in Vientiane, Laos, which provides prosthetics and rehabilitative services.
Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy, Vientiane, Lao PDR
A Personal Story
My name is Thoummy. I would like to tell you a little bit about my story. I had an accident in 1996, when I was 8 years old. I went to collect bamboo after school, alone, with a spade in my hand. When I was digging for bamboo shoots, I heard my spade hit metal.
Before I knew what it was, I was already blown away. The blast was so loud that villagers at nearby rice fields came to see me immediately. They carried me home in an old sarong. My parents were very upset. They took me in a tuk tuk to the district hospital.
From there, I had to be transferred, because my injuries were so serious. Because I lived so far from the hospital, it took a long time before I was treated. I was unconscious the whole time.
I woke up the next day to find that I had lost my left hand. The shock sent me back into unconsciousness for another day. I stayed in the hospital for two months. After I left the hospital, it took a very long time to recover, not only physically but also mentally.
Thoummy Silamphan, November 9, 2010, Vientiane, Lao PDR, Excerpted from speech to the 1st Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions
Click here for more of Thoummy's story and the stories of other cluster bomb survivors.