COPE, or the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise has a visitor center/ museum in Vientiane. It may seem like an odd thing to visit, a visitor center about prosthetics but it’s a very important organization and eye opening, especially as an American. I would highly suggest giving yourself time to watch the almost hour long documentary they offer.
The visitor center is free, they are a non for profit that helps victims of cluster bombs or bombies left over from the USA’s involvement in the Vietnam war, which they call the American war or the Secret War. The majority of the COPE visitor center is a crash course introduction on bombies and their effect of the daily lives of the Lao people.
COPE works in partnership with the Center of Medical Rehabilitation which is why when visiting you may get a bit confused by the signage at the entrance. COPE works on making prosthetics and training others in making and helping people with disabilities. While the center is free, donations are encouraged and you don’t have to leave empty handed, you can take a prosthetic home with you if you want.
Bombies are still being found in the soil of Laos and though they haven’t gone off yet they are still active. Special bomb squads visit villages to deal with the left over cluster bombs. The remains of the bombs are then re-purposed and you can find them at night markets, either as spoons, key rings, rings, or small statues.