Jon Witsell originally came to Laos in early 2013 to document a project with
Doctors Without Borders and to photograph the Plain of Jars. During that time he was shocked to discover the massive quantity of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) still littering the country.
Plain of Jars Site #1: A Tribute To FB
He returned again in late 2013 with a desire to help out in some way. That was when he was introduced to the Lone Buffalo Foundation. Here he found a place where he could make a real difference in the lives of young people who lived
on the Plain of Jars in Phonsavan, Xieng Khouang Province, one of most bombed places on earth.
Plain of Jars Site #3: Gaping Maw
He decided to start this fundraiser and offer his black and white prints of the Plain of Jars as rewards to the donors. Please take a look at the gallery of images offered here:
If you would like to read more about the impetus for the
Plain of Jars Project, see who is endorsing the project, and keep up to date with the project on the blog, go here:
Please read on to discover the impact this small, but resourceful organization is having on the youth of Phonsavan:
Lone Buffalo Foundation (LBF) is a community project based in Phonsavan, Laos. We create a unique environment in which boys and girls can study, develop creative skills, and play sport. We manage an English school with two classrooms,
girls & boys soccer teams, and a small gym. In addition we also offer other classes: film making and media workshops, computing, and, most importantly, Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) awareness courses with the national de-mining organization,
With the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) being created in 2015, Laos will enter the global stage. Having an educated, skilled citizenry will be a fundamental requirement of Laos as it engages Southeast Asia and the larger world. While English doesn’t have
the most speakers, it is the official language of more countries than any other language. We are preparing our students for the opportunities this economic activity will bring.
In The Advanced English Language Class.
Our Foundation was set up following the sudden death of an inspirational local man, Manophet ‘Lone Buffalo’, who committed his whole life to helping others. By day he worked for UXO Lao de-mining explosives. Every weekday evening
he taught English in a tiny class in his house. In 2006 he founded the school’s soccer team. Two years later they won the National Day Cup. Everyone who met him was touched by his dedication, generosity, and stamina.
At UXO-Lao, Working His Day Job.
The fresh approach of our Foundation enabled us to take a team of Lao soccer players outside of Asia for the first time. Their amazing journey is documented in the forthcoming movie On
Safer Ground that will create international interest in Laos and spotlight the issue of unexploded ordnance.
It was Manophet’s dream to take his beloved football team to Europe. After meeting him Lone Buffalo co-founder Gareth Carter raised funding to take Manophet and his football team to
Sweden to compete in the 2010 Gothia Cup, an international youth tournament. It would be the first time a team of Laotian footballers had competed outside of Asia.
Lai Launching The Ball In 3, 2, 1...
Tragically, days before the team were set to go to Sweden, Manophet suddenly died. We set up the Lone Buffalo Foundation in his memory. The team returned to Laos with the Gothia Cup
Fair Play Trophy—a fitting tribute to Manophet’s legacy.
In March of 2014, Manophet's legacy was paid another tribute. International Soccer and Mine Risk Education organization
Spirit of Soccer selected three of the members of the Lone Buffalo girls' soccer team to attend the Football
For Hope Festival at FIFA's World Cup in Brazil!
Scotty From Spirit
These three girls were selected from all the girls' teams in the entire country, and had to excel not only in soccer, but also in grades at school, and in their involvement in Lone Buffalo.
Coaching The Girls
Remember, this is in a country where soccer is considered a boys-only sport, and something we at the Foundation are working to change.
Lai, Miss Cary, And Miss Bee.
While English language education and soccer training are core to who we are, there is another vital element to our educational curriculum that keeps our students alive:
Unexploded Ordance awareness training.
With Laos being, per capita, the most bombed country on the globe, it is vital that our students are educated about the horrendous consequences of coming in contact with
Unexploded Ordnance (UXO). We have an excellent relationship with the national de-mining organization UXO-Lao. We take our students for lectures about the deadly nature and prevalence of UXO. They are also taken to UXO-Lao field operations to see how
these weapons are detected and destroyed. The field trips strongly affect the students, giving them safe, real-life exposure to the UXO that litters their country.
In Unexploded Ordnance Awareness Class.
Inspecting Cluster Bomb Display After UXO Awareness Class.
UXO-Lao Team Describing The Unexploded Ordnance In The Rice Paddy Behind.
Student Of The Month, Lee Xay, Pressing The Detonator.
Nine Less Cluster Bombs Exist In Laos!
We also promote student creativity through such things as our
Media Workshops. One is the weekly Video Media Workshop class. Other are computing classes on creating websites and the use of common software.
Video Media Workshop: Showing Low Camera Angle. Teng Vue (Media Workshop Translator) Doing Imitation Of The Incredible Hulk.
Attending Computing Skills Workshops.
Attending Computing Skills Workshops
Laos is 22nd on the United Nation's list of Least Developed Countries, and per capita, the most heavily bombed country on the globe.
The Lone Buffalo Foundation is committed to improving opportunities for poorest of the young people in Phonsavan, Laos.
With the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community, Laos will compete on the global stage. An educated and skilled citizenry will
be fundamental for its success.