We have a range of jewellery in store that is made from metals left over from a 21-year protracted armed conflict in Vietnam.
The civil war was fought as North Vietnam sought to unify Vietnam under a communist government. South Vietnam, supported by the USA, and other allies, fought for their freedom to maintain a western style of democracy.
Throughout the war the USA and their allies tried desperately to disrupt the supply lines through Laos, to the North Vietnamese Communist fighters. Through the duration of the war, over 2 million tons of bombs were dropped on this tiny peaceable nation. This is more than all the bombs dropped on Germany and Japan together through WWII, and has made Laos the most heavily bombed nation in history.
This has had an awful legacy of harm and hurt, and a negative economic impact upon this small nation. More than a third of all the cluster bombs dropped on Laos never detonated, and many remain unexploded to this day. The potential for physical harm to the citizens of Laos is still potent. The economic challenges of farming or building, where there is a danger of existing unexploded ordinance, is an ongoing challenge for the Laotian economy.
There is a brand of jewellery called 'Article 22', made from the cluster bomb metals. Their goal is to use the profits from the sale of their jewellery to fund the work of mine clearance in Laos. So notable was the efforts of the Mine Clearance group that they have been given a Nobel Peace Prize.
Content Warning: Please be warned that this video contains graphic content of this war.
This group have helped villagers, who were already using the metals to create products for sale within Laos, to access a world wide market for jewellery. Their impact has been extensive, with Article 22 able to donate enough funds to remove undetonated ordinance from 13,000 square meters of contaminated land within Laos. They have also used the funding raised by the sale of their jewellery to donate to the "Village Development Fund'. This gives Villagers involved in the project funding to decide on projects which will contribute to the Village wellbeing. This has included projects such as providing electricity for the public spaces in the village. The makers are also able to work part time making the jewellery which gives these subsistence farmers an external income of 5 times the local minimum wage.
Pictured: Article 22 jewellery makers and their children in Laos
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'It's such a lovely idea to turn something so negative into something so beautiful.'
- Emma Watson
The Fair Trader has some of this beautiful designer jewellery on sale in store and online.
We would value your support in our ongoing effort to support fair trade makers of jewellery, who are using profits from beautiful things to bring positive change to precious people in nations impacted by war and poverty.