In the village of Ban Napia, Laos – one of the most bombed areas in the history of mankind – the Purple Buddha Project is looking to recycle aluminum remains of war scrap to transform an object that traditionally symbolizes negativity into jewelry and positive change. The Purple Buddha Project up-cycles war scrap in Southeast Asia, and is soon launching a jewelry collection made from war scrap in Laos through crowd-funding and partnerships with local NGOs and artisan groups in Ban Napia, Laos.
Throughout Laos, bombs are still scattered about, and analysts have determined that even with the current rate of international support and partnerships by governments, it will still take another 800 years to fully de-mine the country. Bombs were dropped on Laos every eight minutes, twenty-four hours a day, for nine years; the equivalent of 1000 lbs for every Laotian man, woman, and child. The modern-day problem stems from the fact that 30 percent of what was dropped on the country failed to detonate and is presently alive underground.
As one of the most bombed countries in the world, this prevents the population from expanding their land for agricultural use, in fear of what lies beneath. Many farmers support their livelihood through substance farming – self-sufficient farming focusing on growing just enough food to feed themselves and their family. However, due to the tragic past, presently even this remains a hardship for the people. There’s clear under-utilization and lack of efficiency in the use of the land due to the present situation, which prevents growth in even the most basic and fundamental economic factors. Today there are still many casualties annually, with 40 percent of the total casualties involving children.
The village of Ban Napia, also known as ‘War Spoon Village’, has recently been recognized for the efforts of the Hmong people who up-cycle war scraps into souvenir spoons. In the closest city to Ban Napia, Xieng Khoang, the travel agencies and guesthouses would even nonchalantly place a plethora of war scraps in the lobby simply as decorations. Years later, this village formed ties with multiple international de-mining NGOs and the government of Laos and also expanded their craftsmanship and experience to produce other goods such as keychains and jewelry.
Up-cycling plane parts, bullet shells, bombshell fins, and other remains of war, Purple Buddha Project jewelry is embedded with a strong message; where the beauty of the Purple Buddha Project looks to bring awareness to is the issue at hand and the situation of the country. The collection currently includes bracelets, necklaces, and rings, and each jewelry piece is created by an artisan employed by a local artisan group. Additionally, the each purchase of jewelry contributes to the donation of nine meals to schools that sponsor disadvantaged children in Southeast Asia to attend school free of cost. Currently, the Purple Buddha Project is running an Indiegogo campaign with their jewelry on sale to fund their project – support the Purple Buddha Project here.