Laos 1965 - Feminist Consciousness and
Maria Carmen Domingo-Kirk, Ed.D.
Department of Philippine Studies
City College of San Francisco
San Francisco, California
This paper focuses on the experience of an educator and
medical records librarian who joined a Filipino medical organization, Operation
Brotherhood International (OBI) a humanitarian organization based in Manila,
Philippines. Volunteers of this organization sign up for a two year contract
which can be
renewed more than once for service in Laos.
Forty years beyond the Indochinese War, the author reflects on her one year work in Laos. First, as an educator who had the task of supervising kindergarten classes in Vientiane at the refugee center within the That Luang complex and at the clinics operated by the OBI in Vang Vieng, Sayaboury, Paksong and Attopeu. Second, as a medical records librarian who kept track of the diseases reported at the OBI hospital in Vientiane and in the clinics in the countryside.
After eleven months of service, the author became conscious of the reality of the war going on in Laos. After much reflection, she questioned many things that were going on. The deaths of a Filipina nurse, a Canadian with the International Control Commission, a young Australian diplomat, three American pilots, all these deaths affected the author deeply. Then there is the quiet resignation of young Lao soldiers who were brought to the hospital in Vientiane as their arms and legs were amputated.
The author left Laos after a year with bitter memories of what a war can do. The last forty years has made her a critic of armed conflict. War has happened before, continues to happen now and most likely will happen in the future. As a woman and a social scientist the author critiques those who start wars and those who aid those engaged in this inhuman, human activity.