Change a Life Initative – The Children of Laos

There is nothing we love more than having fun while spreading kindness and promoting big changes.

GISH – the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt – has been serving up the best kind of chaotic generosity since 2011. In the last few years, GISH has found a partner in Giles Duley, a photojournalist who traverses the globe, diligently finding stories not being told about people with indomitable spirits that are in need of some help.

In partnering with Giles, GISH and Random Acts started the Change a Life project. Gishers have helped Syrian refugee families, Rwandan farming communities and a small village in South Africa find a new sense of hope. This year, we have turned our sights on an issue that affects the entire country of Laos: children who are victims of undetonated explosives.

Legacy of War

Hundreds of millions of bombs were dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War, but it is estimated that 30% of them did not explode. Instead, they buried themselves in the landscape, where years later, they are still being discovered. Thousands of people have lost their lives just living day to day and coming across the wrong plot of land.

Most horrifically, these unexploded bombs are mistaken for toys. Across Laos, thousands of children sustain injuries or die from these devices detonating. This sort of reality is unthinkable. If this legacy could be erased and these explosives removed, the people of Laos could feel safer in their own home and have a chance to thrive.

Bringing Hope

If you registered for Gish, part of those funds will go directly to fund clearing farmland of these explosive devices. As of this writing, enough has been raised to clear 25 family farms, making the area safe for this and future generations.

In addition to that, The Change a Life initiative aims to drastically improve the lives of children across Laos. We are aiming to raise $150,000 to fund prosthetics for children and adults. The funds collected will sponsor a specialist to travel to local villages and outfit those in need with new limbs. For these children, that means getting a second chance at being ambulatory. For Duley, this issue is one he is particularly passionate about, having lost both of his legs and an arm during the Afghanistan War.

“When I was in Laos, I met so many children who’d been injured in similar ways to myself. I know first-hand the pain they are in each day, both physically and mentally. I kept thinking, why should a child have to go through what I do each day, simply because they were walking to school and were injured by a bomb left over from a war that ended years before they were even born? They are completely innocent, yet they have to bear this terrible burden.”

Gish participants are using Crowdrise to start their own mini-fundraisers in hopes to meet (and exceed!) the funding goal. If you are not participating in Gish, you can go directly to the Crowdraise page and make a donation. The funds will go directly to Random Acts, who will be funding this initiative.

Curious about the Change a Life program? You can check out what Gishers and Random Acts have done in the past, and visit Giles Duley’s Legacy of War site to learn more!