An essential stop on a trip to Vientiane, capital of Laos, the COPE Visitor Centre provides an excellent insight into the legacy of the secret war in Laos and the impact of UXO (unexploded ordnance) on the local population.
Take time to wander through the exhibition to learn about the UXO problem in Lao PDR and the work undertaken by COPE (Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise) to provide disability services for people affected by UXOs. As part of the exhibition there are a number of excellent documentary films about UXOs and COPE, including the award-winning Bomb Hunters about the work of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) in Laos. Exhibits include detailed maps of bomb sites, defused cluster bombs displayed as artistic sculptures and a variety of homemade prosthetic limbs moulded from wood and stone. Visitors can try traditional stick operated tricycle wheelchairs at the centre or try walking with a prosthetic leg. There is also a mirror box on display that is used to treat phantom pain in amputees and this is a very surreal experience for visitors.
The COPE Visitor Centre includes a small gift shop with original t-shirts, postcards, and fair-trade Lao Mountain Coffee. There are also snacks, ice cream and drinks on offer at Karma Cafe. All money raised from the gift shop and the Karma Cafe go directly to funding COPE services. It is also possible to buy a leg for someone, as well as donate different sums of money for different needs. Buying a leg is the best present imaginable. Thanks to donations, more people are able to move on. Learn more at http://www.copelaos.org/donate.php
The COPE Visitor Centre is located on Khou Vieng Road, 1km from the Talat Sao (Morning Market), opposite Green Park Hotel. It is easy to reach by bicycle or tuk tuk. It is open everyday from 9am to 6pm.
Learn more at http://www.copelaos.org/visit.php.