Dong Ha City, Quang Tri Province, Vietnam (5 August 4, 2011)
Today, the Department of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with Project RENEW to celebrate the 10 years of cooperation and implementation of the project and dedicate the Mine Action Visitor Center.
Attending the event was Mr. Don Tuan Phong, Director of the People’s Aid Coordination Committee (PACCOM) of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations (VUFO), representing the central government, and Mr. Nguyen Duc Chinh, Standing Vice Chairman of the Quang Tri Province People’s Committee, representing the provincial government.
Other participants included representatives of provincial agencies, district authorities, and beneficiary families.
Representing donors and partners were International Adviser of RENEW and representative of the Humpty Dumpty Institute, Mr. Chuck Searcy, who was former representative of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF); Mr. Jonathon Guthrie, Country Director of Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), one of the biggest mine action organizations in the world; and representatives from international non-governmental organizations operating in Quang Tri. Also present at the event were Mr. Christos Cotsakos, who once served in the U.S. Army in Quang Tri and who donated $250,000 USD to launch RENEW in 2001; Mr. David Wells, a Vietnam veteran and supporter of RENEW; and Mrs. Sally Benson and Mr. Steve Nichols who provided funding for the establishment of Quang Tri Mine Action Visitor Center.
As authorized by the Prime Minister, Project RENEW is a cooperative effort between the People’s Committee of Quang Tri, international donors, and foreign non-governmental organizations. Project RENEW was launched in 2001 as a model to develop and test new ways to provide a more effective response to the humanitarian challenge of explosive remnants of war (ERW).
Project RENEW’s integrated and comprehensive model has benefited from resources and assistance provided by national and international agencies, institutions and individuals. International partners of RENEW have included the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), the Humpty Dumpty Institute (HDI), Golden West Humanitarian Foundation (GWHF), the Tromsoe Medical Center for Mine Victims (TMC), and UNICEF.
From an initial pilot model, Project RENEW has developed and achieved substantial results. “After 10 years of implementation, RENEW RENEW is now seen as a proven model in effective humanitarian mine action response in Vietnam, and is highly regarded by central government agencies and the international community,” said VUFO President Mr. Vu Xuan Hong in his letter of congratulations to RENEW.
Speaking at the anniversary, Mr. Nguyen Duc Chinh, Standing Vice Chairman and Head of the Steering Board, expressed his appreciation for the project’s achievements and gratitude to donors and partners for their critical support. He also thanked central government agencies for their close cooperation, direction and guidance during project implementation. “Nevertheless, said Mr. Chinh, “to deal with war consequences is a long-term process requiring extensive funds and efforts. Therefore, it’s our request that Project RENEW continue building on 10 years of experience and achievements to develop and expand its model and continue to contribute to making Quang Tri safe as set in the project mission,” said Mr. Chinh.
Officials and guests also witnessed the ribbon cutting ceremony that officially opened the Mine Action Visitor Center. The Center provides information to national and foreign visitors, especially post-war young generations, about war legacies and efforts to address the problem of unexploded ordnance.
The Mine Action Visitor Center is intended to convey facts, truths, and images about the war, its consequences and the impact of ERW on the people. It describes efforts to overcome losses of land and property, personal injuries to family members, and grinding poverty. The Center describes government and international NGO responses to these challenges.
“Visitors may come to appreciate the immense costs of war, better understand why the Vietnamese people so value their hard-won peace and learn about the rise of Quang Tri land and its people during the reconstruction process,” said Mr. Hoang Nam, Quang Tri DOFA Vice Director.
According to Mr. Chuck Searcy, who is a Vietnam veteran and RENEW’s International Adviser, the Center also reflects reconciliation and understanding between people and nations who were once adversaries, and who now have become partners, putting aside the past and looking forward to a better future.
Documents relative to the 10th anniversary of Project RENEW:
- 10-year report on Project RENEW’s mine action work.
- Remarks of Mr. Nguyen Duc Chinh, Standing Vice Chairman of Quang Tri Province People’s Committee.
- Remakrs of Mr. Hoang Nam, Vice Director of Quang Tri DOFA.
- Remarks of Mr. Jonathon Guthrie, NPA Country Director.
- Remarks of Mr. Chuck Searcy, RENEW’s International Advisor, Representative of HDI, fomer Rep of VVMF.
- Letter of congratulations from Mr. Vu Xuan Hong, President of VUFO.
- Letter of congratulations from Mr. Stale T. Risa, Norwegian Ambassador.
- Letter of congratulations from Mr. Ralph Cwerman, President of HDI.