Channapha Khamvongsa

Activist Type

Channapha Khamvongsa is a Lao-American activist and founder of Legacies of War, a non-profit aiming to spread awareness of the enduring impact of the Vietnam War in the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

Khamvongsa’s childhood was surrounded by conflict. She was born in Laos near the ending of the country’s civil war which overlapped with the Vietnam War. At the age of six, her family was able to escape the war-torn region to start life all over again in the United States. While attending college in the United States, Channapha Khamvongsa began researching U.S. involvement in the Laotian Civil War, known as the Secret War within the CIA. Inspired by drawings and stories of the Laotian people who experienced the U.S. bombings, Khamvongsa began Legacies of War in 2004. Channapha envisioned the non-profit as a way to educate people, as well as, direct resources towards the clearance of undetonated explosives and victim assistance.

Throughout the organization’s existence, Channapha Khamvongsa has grown Legacies of War with diplomacy rather than resentment. She has enlisted the help of former ambassadors, lobbying groups, and even veterans who participated in the bombings to contribute to the healing process. In 2016, President Obama acknowledged the work of Khamvongsa while announcing a massive increase in US spending on explosives clearance in Laos.

Artwork by
Hanjoon Kim

Buddhism has strongly influenced Laos and traditional Laotian art over the centuries. This portrait of Channapha Khamvongsa is inspired by the gold paintings found throughout Buddhist temples. Using the gold foil against the burgundy background, I wanted to represent her accomplishments which have saved countless innocent lives in Laos.

Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Lao People’s Democratic Republic Flag
July 19, 1949
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