Clearing the minefields at Ban Xai
28 February, 2012
Gary Bridgland from Harcourt is planning a trip to Laos once his bees settle down for the winter. You can catch him at the Wesley Hill Market on Saturdays, selling honey and occasionally getting stuck into a piece of pavlova.
Gary was one of the members of the MiVAC Trust (Mine Victims and Clearance) who stepped up to the challenge of raising funds for Ban Xai in Laos. Recently he helped organise a blues night at Guildford.
Gary wrote that through the generosity of the people of Castlemaine and district, MiVAC has raised $12,250 for mine and UXO (unexploded ordnance) clearance in Laos.
MiVAC is a voluntary organisation enabling 95% of donor’s funds to reach their identified projects. MiVAC brings relief to people living in areas affected by mine warfare. MiVAC also provides a positive focus for those who are aware, and are concerned, about what was left behind at the end of conflicts or the withdrawal of troops.
Two million tons of bombs were dropped on Laos (now the Lao PDR) – which is more than was dropped on the whole of Europe during WWII. Thirty per cent didn’t go off – so are left behind and the locals have to deal with the consequences.
Gary is a veteran of the Vietnam War, and the MiVAC Trust was founded by Australian Veterans of that war, the first Tunnel Rats, who cleared landmines in Vietnam and who have seen and felt first hand the effects of these indiscriminate weapons. You can donate to MiVAC here.
Below is an excerpt from MiVAC’s latest newsletter:
We thought there were four minefields just north of the Road at Ban Xai. How wrong we are! Phoenix Clearance Limited were finishing off clearing K2 Minefield for MiVAC when they were told of 40 cattle having their legs blown off (and so being shot). Furthermore, in the rainy season, the locals could see the M14 Mines sticking out above the ground.
What we are doing about this is a longer range plan. Our plan is to call tenders to clear these minefields one at a time (hopefully being supported by Rotary in WA) and the asking for assistance from Ausaid for finance.
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