Sera Koulabdara's Meaning of Hope: an Interview with ARTICLE22
When our dear friend #Trailblazer Sera Koulabdara asked us to accompany her to the United Nations, we packed our bags with plenty of HOPE bangles and jetted off to celebrate 30 years of Mine Action with our friends Legacies of War, MAG, UNMAS, Geneva Call and ICBL-CMC.
International Mine Awareness Day is a very special day for Legacies of War and countless humanitarian and Mine Action leaders who were part of the special panel on April 5th.
This is why we chose to introduce the HOPE all around bangles during this important day. We chatted with Sera about what this new bangle means to her and the mission of Legacies and learned so much about the progress made, future of bomb clearance and got to learn how intentional Sera is when it comes to fashion! (We are swooning!)
Sera pictured with Giles Duley at the UN for International Mines Awareness Day. Photo courtesy of Legacies of War Instagram.
WHAT DOES THE HOPE BANGLE MEAN TO YOU AND TO LEGACIES' MISSION?
SERA: First, THANK YOU so much for bringing me our HOPE bangle in time for today's special event. I am so honored to have it with me today. Our pillars at Legacies are History. Healing. Hope. Of these, HOPE is what keeps us moving forward despite all the obstacles that we face and the tremendous task of clearing 80 million cluster bombs. Nearly 5 decades has passed since the American Secret War (1964-73) ended and even with our best efforts to prevent this, bombs and landmines are still killing or injuring people to this day. Many of which are children. We have to show the people of Laos that there's yet HOPE for us to work together towards a new legacy of peace and hope.
"HOPE is what keeps us moving forward."
We LOVE your Laotian sinh and of course, Legacies' T-Shirt. It goes perfectly with the HOPE bangle, might we add! You're known on Capitol Hill for wearing your sinhs, and we hear this red one in particular is very special to you. Can you share the story behind it?
SERA: Yes! It's not everyday that I get the honor of representing Legacies at the United Nation and speak to global leaders about our mission and what it means to the people of Laos and Americans. As I was writing my speech, I realized that all the horrific experiences that my family endured fleeing Laos, my own trauma from having to grow up in a bomb littered land, are all connected as is the strength of my parents. This red sinh belonged to my mother and her sisters. It was made during the American Secret War by loomers in Southern Laos. Red was specifically chosen to show the blood shed from the bombs but also the strength of those who gave their lives for Laos' independence.
Sera wearing her red sinh with our friends MAG in front of the UN.
My mother wore this sinh as did my aunts. Wearing this particular sinh allows me to feel connected to them, like they are here with me today to deliver this message to the world about Laos' deadly legacy and how we can all play a role to make a positive impact. For me, I not only inherited this sinh, but my ancestor's resiliency, love and hope that we will continue to make Laos safer for children and their families.
"Despite the dark history between these two countries, there’s still time to create a new legacy of peace and HOPE."
Madeleine Albright used her brooches/pins to make statements and messages. You use nail art, please tell us why and what is today's message?
SERA: (laughs) I absolutely admire Madeleine Albright and you made my day with this flattering comparison. When I was a child, I practiced classical Lao dance and my Mother taught me to paint my nails. We had so much fun together and I painted things like flowers, birds, things my mother shared about her childhood. Today, I chose the word HOPE, our American flag and the Laos flag. For me, it represents my two identities and my wish that despite the dark history between these two countries, there’s still time to create a new legacy of peace and HOPE.