Eight-year-old Thoummy Silamphan wanted bamboo shoots for his family’s soup, so he went into a field near his village, spotted some good ones and started digging in the soil with his hands.
What he also found that day 20 years ago was an American bomb left over from the Vietnam War era that had fallen from the sky but never detonated. It exploded, obliterating his left hand and knocking him flat into the field of shoots until neighboring farmers carried him to safety.
“I knew about the bombs,” he said this week, “but I didn’t have a choice. We have to go out into the fields anyway.”
On Wednesday, Silamphan went to the center here where other survivors...