I recently stumbled upon a brilliant company, Article 22 (named after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they promote every one’s right to social economic and cultural security through fashion design) , by means of one of our wholesale customers who carrries their line. PEACEBOMB, the first collection, is jewelry made from Vietnam War era bombs by Laotian artisans.
I was immediately smitten with them, not only because of their mission and unique creations, but also because Laos is a country very close to my own heart.
I spent a month touring Laos by motorcycle in 2003. I fell in love with Don Det Island where I had a tiny, wooden bungalow that overlooked the Mekong River for 50 cents a night. When I think of Laos, visions of the striking Khmer temples of Champasak come to mind, the lovely capital of Vientiane where I nibbled on chocolate croissants, Vieng Xai surrounded by limestone cliffs and its many caves, the Bolaven Plateau with majestic mountains, coffee plantations and refreshing waterfalls. Beyond the stunning landscapes throughout this country, most of all I remember the warmth of the people everywhere we went. One late afternoon we were passing through a remote village and there were tons of children dancing around a large speaker. We stopped to watch them for a moment and a man invited us to a nearby hut where a celebration of sorts was taking place. Laotians were huddled around barrels of lao-lao (potent homemade rice whiskey) and they insisted we sample it with their bamboo straws. Everybody was in festive spirits, food was plentiful and we enjoyed a few hours communicating through hand gestures with no shared language.
In contrast to the beauty of this land, and the richness of its culture, it is also the most heavily bombed country per capita in history. An average of one B-52 bomb-load was dropped on Laos every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, between 1964 and 1973. At the current rate of removal, it will take an estimated 800 years to clear all unexploded ordnance. For PEACEBOMB, each bracelet sold de-mines 3m2 of bomb littered land. To know that Article 22 is making a positive impact in this beautiful but war-scarred place, makes every purchase that much better.
My husband recently gifted me their “love is the bomb” necklace for our anniversary. I love the how the making of this piece transforms an act of war into an act of love while offering work and perhaps pride to artisans in this lovely country.