A poem and a plea for future victims of cluster munitions

By Ron Janzen, Executive Director of MCC Manitoba

In February 2013, I joined a learning tour to Laos and Cambodia sponsored by MCC’s  Global Family program. In the rural village of Xiengthan, Laos (a heavily bombed area during the 1964-73 US bombing of Laos) our learning tour group visited an MCC sponsored sustainable agriculture fruit growing project. We visited the home of a subsistence farmer supporting a family of 8 children on a few hectares of land. The fruit growing project provides vital supplemental income to Mr. Bousey’s rice paddy crops.

Mr. Bousey and metal sculpture (by artist Ken Loewen) During the visit with Mr. Bousey (pictured at right), I asked if his land was cleared of unexploded ordnance (UXO) such as cluster munitions and was stunned to discover that it was not. When I further inquired of him whether any of his family or community members had been injured by UXO he looked intently at me and said “not yet”.

Those two words stuck with me for the days and weeks following the learning tour and inspired this poem.

not yet

“not yet” he quips
looking me in the eye

not yet
he stakes his cow
every morning

not yet
he plants his rice
every afternoon

not yet
he weeds his gardens
every evening

not yet
his children play and roam
every day

the daily reality
of “not yet”?

fear
anxiety
resignation
waiting
anticipating

can hope and
“not yet”
coexist?

9 years
580,000 bombing “missions”
2 million tons of ordnance
270 million “bombies”

they sound cute
like babies
but they are not

80 million unexploded legacies
“not yet” realized
unfathomable scope
continued devastation

Jesus grieving
MCC working
not yet
peace in Laos
not yet

Also pictured above is a metal sculpture by Altona, Manitoba, artist Ken Loewen. Ken was also on the learning tour and created this sculpture in response to touring the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE) in Vientiane, Laos. This centre provides rehabilitation and employment to victims of cluster munitions through research, design, and production of orthotic and prosthetic devices.

Please help build a safer world by joining MCC Canada in saying No to cluster munitions! Sign the petition asking for stronger Canadian legislation to support the international Convention on Cluster Munitions.

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