Brand to Know: Purple Buddha Project

June 5, 2016

Bombs were dropped on Laos every eight minutes, twenty-four hours a day, for nine

years; or the equivalent of 1000lb for every Laotian person; however very few know about this

outside of Laos. Today many of these bombs still lay active underground, known as UXOs,

where 30% of what was dropped on the country, failed to detonate, and is presently alive

underground, preventing Laos from self-sufficiency and has locked the country into a cycle of

poverty. Although Laos ‘economy is largely agriculturally based, as one of the most bombed

countries in the world, this prevents the farmer-population from expanding their land for

agricultural use, in fear of what lies beneath. There is clear under-utilization and lack of

efficiency in the agricultural use of the land due to the present situation that has forced Laos to

be limited even in one of the most basic sectors of the economy. The UXO situation of Laos not

only prevents Laos from economic prosperity and growth, but also has created a major safety

hazard around the country, where presently 40 percent of the total casualties involving

children. At the current rate of demining funding by the international community, it will still

take another 800 years to fully clear the land of active UXOs.

 

The chief factor of the country today is based on the lack of international funding, which

is ultimately based on the lack of awareness of the situation of Laos. In the remote village of

Ban Napia located in the countryside of Phonsavan province, Forrest Curran of the Purple

Buddha Project is upcyling aluminum remains of war scrap to recreate an article that

traditionally symbolizes negativity into jewelry and positive change in Laos. Upcycling plane

parts, bullet shells, bombshell fins, and other remains of war, the jewelry is embedded with a

strong message; where Purple Buddha Project looks use the jewelry as conversation starters

and to spread awareness of the dire situation of the country. The Purple Buddha Project

originally originated in the neighboring country of Cambodia, which also has a similar history of

issues with UXOs. Having empowered thousands of lives in Cambodia through their partnership

with fair-trade artisan cooperatives and through their meal sharing program with partnership

schools, Purple Buddha Project looks to recreate the same model into Laos. Each jewelry piece

is created by an artisan employed by a local fair-trade cooperative, as well as the each purchase

of jewelry contributing for the donation of nine meals to schools that sponsor disadvantaged

children of Southeast Asia to attend school free of cost. You can support the Purple Buddha

Project through here.

 

 

 

 

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