Apr 15 2010
by Julia McWatt, South Wales Echo
Photographer snaps the horror stories of cluster bombs
A YOUNG photographer who travelled across Asia to document the effects of cluster bombs on communities hopes to raise awareness of the issue in exhibitions in South Wales.
Dominique Lyons, 25, from Penarth, spent four months travelling across Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in 2009 taking photographs of the suffering caused by cluster bombs.
She is now putting together a project from her collection to show in exhibitions around Cardiff.
Dominique, who left Penarth in March 2009, said she had never been to Asia before and the trip had opened her eyes to another culture.
There are more than 400 unexploded bombs in the area. They were dropped in the Vietnamese war.
She said: “I was not scared when I first left but everything was so mad when I got there.
“I have never been to Asia but there was just so much to take in – it was so different.”
One of the first problems she came across was transport to cross the borders, but she managed to make friends quickly who could provide transport and help her with translation.
She said the stories she heard were heartbreaking and still stick vividly in her mind.
“One of the most poignant days was when I went and joined two children in Laos, one was 13 and one was 11,” she said.
“Both had been collecting scrap metal since they were nine.
“I went out with them and while they were searching for scrap metal, it really horrified me.
“It was the sheer danger but they needed the money, they wanted to buy a school uniform and books.”
Dominique said although she had been planning the trip for some time the experience took her by surprise.
She said: “It was not what I expected at all. Some of the horror stories that I heard, I could never have imagined such brutality.
“But at the same time, the resilience of the people was incredible. Everyone was friendly and welcomed me in.”
She is now using her photographs to tell the stories. The project, titled Operation Bombie, has received interest from the World Education Consortium and she has also donated some of the photos to Laos-based charity, Cope.