Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Seventeen-year-old Khied (pictured above) remembers the haunting sound of people crying in pain after a devastating flood destroyed her village this year.

The teen from Attapeu Province, in southern Laos, was getting ready for bed when everything suddenly turned dark and water came gushing into the house.

“I heard a sound like wind and the power in the whole village went off,” Khied says. “I woke my younger brother and sister up and prepared to leave.”

For Khied, the flood – which resulted after the collapse of a dam in Attapeu in July 2018 – was the “most terrible nightmare imaginable”.

After their home was destroyed, she remembers being dragged out with her brother and sister by the force of the water, to the forest.

It was five days before they saw their parents again.

“During the flood, I told my sister and brother to hold onto a tree so we would not float away,” Khied recalls. “There was so much debris like roofs, and logs and rocks that hit us.

“I had to stay alert and take care of my brother and sister so they wouldn’t be scared.”

The siblings ended up on a mountain in the forest, where they stayed overnight.

The next day, Khied saw the extent of the devastation. Debris was floating everywhere and there wasn’t a house in sight.

“I could only hear the sounds of people, injured and crying,” she says.

“I tried looking for my parents and calling out for them, but I didn’t see them anywhere.”

Vee still cries every day over the loss of her son and grandson after a flood destroyed their village in southern Laos in July 2018.

While her five-year-old grandson’s body has since been recovered, the mother of seven is still mourning the absence of her son, whom she last saw drifting in the water with her grandson.

Many of us dread the thought of something taking our children from us. When a natural disaster strikes, that thought can very quickly turn to reality. Vee explains below, how this tragic turn of events has affected her and her family.


When Disaster Struck In Laos

“It has been a terrible nightmare,” Vee says. “I think about my son and my grandson every day. I cry and I can’t sleep, because when I close my eyes I see terrible images in my mind.”

It was about 9 or 10pm when water first began creeping into the house, Vee remembers.

She thought the water wouldn’t reach the second floor but it continued to rise, forcing Vee and her family to flee the house.

They piled into an old boat and hung onto a tree, when the power in the village suddenly cut off. “There was a lot of noise and people began shouting very loudly,” Vee says.

Parts of homes and people’s possessions floated all around them. Suddenly, a large log smashed into the boat, hitting her daughter’s face and knocking her grandson into the water. “My son jumped out of the boat to save him,” Vee says. “He carried my grandson up to the surface and both of them were floating.

“That was the last I saw of them.”