Can fashion really make a difference? Can artisans be agents of change? Could a humble bangle help make post-conflict land safe for the people who live there?
It sounds crazy to be talking about war and bombs in the same sentence as fashion and jewellery. But that’s exactly what Article 22, a New York-jewellery brand and social enterprise that’s handmade in Laos, seeks to do.
They upcycle shrapnel and scrap metal from The Secret War into jewellery, and they called their first collection Peace Bomb.
For every jewellery item they make, Article 22 donates to MAG, the Mines Advisory Group - an NGO that’s on the ground clearing undetonated bombs so that local families can live and farm in peace.
Why are the bombs still there? From 1964 to 1973, the U.S. dropped more than two million tons of ordnance on Laos during 580,000 bombing missions - equal to a planeload of bombs every 8 minutes, 24-hours a day, for 9 years. Then acted like it never happened. It took 45 years for an American President (Obama, in 2016) to formally acknowledge the bombing campaign. Yet, Laos still lives with that legacy every day.
For this week's Episode, we travelled to Xiangkhouang province with Article 22 founders Elizabeth Suda and Camille Hautefort, to meet the artisans whose land is contaminated, and the NGO workers from MAG whose job it is to clear it. And along the way hear powerful stories of positive change.
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